Meet A New Fantasy Author

Today I have the pleasure of featuring author, Laura Kentowski. Her debut novel, Guardian of Fate, has earned many positive reviews, mine included. Rather than try to tell you about this lovely lady, I’m going to step aside and let her do one of the things she does best. Write.

Laura, it is a privilege to welcome you to Alice’s Blog. So draw up a hypothetical chair and pour a virtual cup of tea. Tell us a little about yourself and how you manage to juggle a full time job with being a wife and mom.

Hi Everyone! First of all, I’d like to thank you, Alice, for having me here on your blog. It’s truly an honor.

I’m really your typical working wife and mother with a drive to push myself to exhausting limits. Five days out of the week I work as a corporate manager, come home to a whirlwind of a 5yr old, and eventually find a little quiet time late at night to delve into imaginary worlds with my writing. With the help of my husband, I’m sometimes able to sneak in more of my hobby if ideas can’t be ignored. Nothing beats the feeling of creating a whole new existence for my characters, even if I’m running on fumes.

Alice:  When did you first suspect that writing was your passion?

Laura:  I’ve been a big reader for as long as I can remember. I loved how my favorite authors had the ability to take me away from everything with their words, they still do. I can remember coming home with stacks of books that I could barely carry from the library, demolishing them within days, only to go back for my next stack. It wasn’t until I was about 12 that I attempted my own story. Something about a roller coaster, if I recall (twists and turns seem to be an overall theme in my writing – both figuratively and literally, now that I think of it). There were a few more stories here and there, but I was usually too wrapped up in school and friends to have the time for more. A year or so ago I started a book review blog as a way to combine my love of reading and writing. After about 4 months of that, I was compelled to write more. Short stories bloomed, until 1 idea took on novel proportions and I couldn’t stop. Writing became a ritual.

Alice:  Knowing that you graduated with a double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice, I’d love to know how those fields of study helped to shape Guardian of Fate.

Laura:  It’s funny because my first few novel ideas were psychological thrillers. Who knows, I still may use them some day. I’m a huge fan of twists and turns in novels and movies. I love finding ways to wow the psyche. By nature, I investigate everything with a need to figure things out. The human mind is an amazing entity that works in miraculous ways. If I can make a reader say, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that!” then I feel that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.

Alice:  When did the idea for your book first begin to take shape?

I was haunted by a recurring vision that my main character, Cassandra, was having. She didn’t know why (nor did I at the time) she was having it, but it was compelling. As I started looking more closely at her life, it began to unfold for both of us. There was no going back as we found out together how important her role in life was. Secrets were being kept by those she loved at the same time that mysterious entities came forward, and we had to find out why.

Alice:  Do you have a special place where you write?

Laura:  With all the havoc in my life, I take it where I can get it. Most times at night I’m camped out in the recliner with my laptop. Earphones plugged in to iTunes playlists or Pandora radio, keep the noisy drone of the outside world from creeping in.

Alice:  Do you keep a notebook for stray ideas or bits of dialogue or description?

Laura:  I have several: in my purse, on my phone, in my work bag, on my desk at work. Half the time I lose track of where I put all of them. Thankfully, I’m so anal that I transfer the ideas the minute I can to my writing program so they are not forgotten.

Alice:  Do you like to outline or just fly by the seat of your pants?

Laura:  I’ve tried so hard to be one or the other, but I’ve relented to the fact that I do both. Guardian Of Fate started by the seat of my pants for several chapters until I got stuck. Being new at the whole novel idea, I was devastated as to what I should do. I searched and searched for a way out, but couldn’t find anything that prompted me forward. One day I set out to outline and the ideas just started flowing again, but only so far. So I started writing it out in detail again, until the next block. Eventually it became a pattern: write, outline, write, outline. I vowed to outline my entire next book, but Seeker Of Fate seems to be headed in the same direction of the back and forth routine. What does that make me – a planter (panster/plotter)?

Alice:  Once your first draft is finished, what comes next? Do you let it sit and chill, or do you dive right in with revisions and edits?

Laura:  Again, this was a complete learning process for me. I was ready to dive right in with my revision and edits once Guardian Of Fate was finished, but I hit another cement wall. I’d start, but found myself looking for all the wrong things, not sure of what I needed to do – completely lost. Frustration set in and I found myself putting it off for about a month. Once I got back in, it was like the flow of writing again. I knew exactly what needed to change and kept at it until the end. It was definitely my least favorite part of the whole process.

Alice:  I think Guardian of Fate would make a great movie or TV series, especially since you’re already writing a sequel, Seekers of Fate. What are your thoughts on that?

Laura:  Ahhh, my dream put on a screen, how wonderful would that be. You know, I actually get this overwhelming euphoric feeling when I see other authors’ works come to life on TV and movies. I imagine how they feel to see their characters played out in front of their eyes – literally. Of course, I would love that to be my work someday. My only fear would be capturing the emotions of the characters just right. I’m a true believer that most books are 100 times better than even the most award-winning movies. It’s just so hard to get all of those important details portrayed in such a small amount of time. I think Guardian Of Fate has enough drama, action, and twists to be a movie (I’m just a bit biased), with much more to come in the forthcoming books in the series. I’m just chomping at the bit with more surprises for everyone! Seeker Of Fate is turning out to be just as tortuous with its twists and turns as GOF.

Laura, it’s been delightful to have you as a guest and learn the ins and outs of your writing incentives and techniques. I enjoyed reading Guardian of Fate and can’t wait for your next novel, Seeker of Fate.

Guardian of Fate is available in print and e-book through Amazon.com or at Barnes & Noble. It can also be downloaded in other formats for a variety of e-readers.

Read Laura’s blog at LJ Writes.

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Published in: on February 7, 2012 at 8:51 am  Comments (7)  
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Introducing GETTING SIDEWAYS by Lisa Nowak

Today’s it’s my great pleasure to announce the launch of Getting Sideways, the second book of the Full Throttle series by Lisa Nowak, a rising star among young adult authors right here in Oregon. Lisa brings her experience as a stock car racer and mechanic to life through the eyes of her protagonist, Cody Everett. But this is more than a book about racing. It’s a book of navigating the sometimes rocky road to maturity.

Getting Sideways: Book 2 in the Full Throttle Series

Getting shipped off to live with his uncle Race was the best thing that ever happened to fifteen-year-old Cody. Then a wreck at the speedway nearly ruined everything. Cody’s making every effort to get his life back on track—writing for the school paper, searching for the perfect girlfriend, and counting the days until he gets his drivers’ license—but there’s no escaping the nightmares that haunt him.

A chance to build his own car seems like the perfect distraction. Until Cody realizes he’ll have to live up to Race’s legendary status. But that’s the least of his worries, considering he doesn’t have his dad’s permission. All he has to do is the impossible: keep Race from discovering his lie until he can convince his dad that racing’s safe.

Yeah, sure. That’ll be easy.

Haven’t read the first book? Running Wide Open is on sale now for 99 cents.

Running Wide Open: Book 1 in the Full Throttle Series

Cody Everett has a temper as hot as the flashpoint of racing fuel, and it’s landed him at his uncle’s trailer, a last-chance home before military school. But how can he take the guy seriously when he calls himself Race, eats Twinkies for breakfast, and pals around with rednecks who drive in circles every Saturday night?

What Cody doesn’t expect is for the arrangement to work. Or for Race to become the friend and mentor he’s been looking for all his life. But just as Cody begins to settle in and get a handle on his supercharged temper, a crisis sends his life spinning out of control. Everything he’s come to care about is threatened, and he has to choose between falling back on his old, familiar anger or stepping up to prove his loyalty to the only person he’s ever dared to trust.

Praise for Running Wide Open:

“It doesn’t matter if you are a racing fan or not, Running Wide Open will captivate you and capture your heart.” – Cari J, Amazon reviewer

“The roar of engines practically explodes off the page in this compelling, heart-thumping debut. Cody Everett is a straight-shooter with attitude, smarts, and whip-cracking wit; he doesn’t pull any punches, and neither does author Lisa Nowak. The collision of Cody and the world of stock car racing makes for a great story, one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Running Wide Open is a book not to be missed.” – Christine Fletcher, author of Tallulah Falls and Ten Cents a Dance

“The racing is easy to understand and does not get in the way of a rattling good story. I still couldn’t put it down on a re-read.” – Elisabeth Miles, Amazon reviewer

“We race stock cars during the summer and even though this is a recommended read for Young Adults, we are seniors and enjoyed every page. We can hardly wait for the sequel to come out. MUST READING!” – Maxci Jermann, Barnes and Noble reviewer

“I say read this book, it’s fun, it’s beautiful, it’s a very cool read that will give you a feel-good state of mind. Awesome read.” – L.E.Olteano, Butterfly-o-meter Books

Author Bio:

In addition to being a YA author, Lisa Nowak is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are. She enjoys dark chocolate and stout beer and constantly works toward employing wei wu wei in her life, all the while realizing that the struggle itself is an oxymoron.

Lisa has no spare time, but if she did she’d use it to tend to her expansive perennial garden, watch medical dramas, take long walks after dark, and teach her cats to play poker. For those of you who might be wondering, she is not, and has never been, a diaper-wearing astronaut. She lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband, four feline companions, and two giant sequoias.

Connect with Lisa online:

Interview: Cheri Lasota

Today I’d like to introduce the lovely and talented Cheri Lasota.  Cheri is an editor at Stirling Editing, and recently launched her debut novel in September through SpireHouse Books.  Cheri, I’m so happy to welcome you to share some of your thoughts with me and my readers.

When did you first start writing?  What kinds of books inspired you as an author?

I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing, to be honest. But I do know I made my first attempt at novel writing in third grade. In those first years, my only goal was to just finish a story. It took me decades to be able to do that. I had to learn the hard way that I have to outline my fiction before I begin. It doesn’t work any other way for me. I grew up solely with classics by Dickens, Hawthorne, Melville, Tennyson, and Wordsworth. Words and rhythm were my passions and I cultivated them carefully over the years.

Did you become an editor first and a writer second?

My first editing job was in the Azores Islands (interestingly also the setting of Artemis Rising). I was the editor of my high school newspaper. I went on to work at two other newspapers as well as for a nonprofit group. I much preferred the fiction world, however, so after a couple decades of honing my editing skills as well as fiction writing, I started a freelance editing business in 2004: Stirling Editing. I adore working with and encouraging novelists and short story writers. No better job in the world.

Your book, Artemis Rising, has such an interesting setting.  Why did you pick the Azores Islands as the background?

My father was in the Air Force and we were stationed in the Azores Islands when I was 15- to 16-years old. The Azores are a group of nine islands about 800 miles off the coast of Portugal. I had never heard of them before moving there. I would compare them to Hawaii in terms of beauty. They are volcanic islands owned by Portugal but they have very little commercialism. It’s an idyllic, quiet existence, and I loved every moment of it. When I left the islands, I knew I had to capture that time in my memory forever, and what better way to do that then to write it into my first novel?

How did the plot for Artemis Rising come about?

I built my whole story around three major elements: the culture, land, and faith of the Azorean people; the Greek myth of Alpheus and Arethusa; and the Arthurian legend of Tristan and Isolde. What on earth do these three elements have in common? It took a decade of my life to figure that out. And whoa! the parallels will amaze you.

Are you an outliner or a pantser?

As I mentioned before, I’m definitely an outliner. I’m an absolute wuss when it comes to the blank page. I shake in my boots and the whole bit. So I have to create a little box for myself to work within. You can’t just show me the open road and tell me to hit the gas. Doesn’t work. I need to know where I’m going and why. I’m probably the most over-organized writer you’ll ever meet. =)

I know you’re working on a new book.  Can you tell us a little about that one?

This next book has been a breeze to write! It’s because I finally understand how I work best, so I definitely plotted this one out way ahead of time. I’m about halfway through. The novel is set on the Oregon Coast (so I can finally have easy access to setting research!) and it involves a fictitious lighthouse and spans two lifetimes. The first story is set in the 30s when the lighthouse was still in use. The second story takes place in present day when the lighthouse is being restored to its former glory. There is a bit of a mystery in this novel, and how those two storylines intertwine is where the magic happens.

Artemis Rising, an ebook, features interactive links.  Did your publisher come up with those?

SpireHouse Books and I brainstormed cool ideas for interactive ebook content together. We both brought things to the table and then narrowed them down to the very best. We have old classic maps, an author page, external links to my website, etc., a hyperlinked glossary, and up next I’ll be trading chapter one excerpts with other authors. The possibilities are endless! And the great thing is that we can change up these features whenever we want.

One of the unique things you did to promote Artemis Rising was to make a video book trailer.  What can you tell us about that and where can we see it?

I’m blessed to have many friends within the Portland film scene. They went above and beyond to help me create a kind of mini-film of my book that showcases scene snippets from the book and brings them to life. We filmed in Portland and on the Oregon coast and I often say that those two production days were some of the best of my life. To see scenes from my novel come to life before my eyes…there’s just nothing quite like it. Since Director Bill Thoma of Axiom Shift Productions wrapped up production, I’ve been able to incorporate the trailer into my book marketing campaigns in many innovative ways and it has truly given Artemis Rising a broader audience.

Where can we find your book and how can inquiring minds contact you?

Learn more about the novel or contact me at http://www.cherilasota.com. The book is available in all digital formats and can be purchased at SpireHouseBooks.com, iTunes, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and KoboBooks.com.

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SpireHouse Books launched Cheri Lasota’s first novel, Artemis Rising, in Sept 2011. The book is a YA historical fantasy based on mythology and set in the exotic Azores Islands. Currently, Cheri is writing and researching her second novel, a YA set on the Oregon Coast. Over the course of her sixteen-year career, she has edited fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and short stories for publication. Cheri also has twenty-four years of experience writing poetry and fiction.