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Last Chance to enter to win the Book Give-Away by Lucinda Brant

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Deadly Peril by Lucinda Brant

 

If you havent yet entered to win one of 5 copies of Lucinda Brant’s brand-new book, Deadly Peril, here is your chance.

Lucinda Brant has offered to give two copies of Deadly Peril, and three audio codes good for an audio book download of Deadly Peril to members of PaperBackSwap who comment on the Author Interview with our Member Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty). Click on the link to read the interview and enter the contest:
http://blog.paperbackswap.com/author-interview-and-book-give-away-with-lucinda-brant/2016/01/

We will choose 5 winners at random on Sunday, February 15, 2016. Good luck to everyone!

Thank you Ms. Brant and Jerelyn for a great interview and give-away!

 

 

 

Author Interview and Book Give-Away with Lucinda Brant

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Deadly peril brant

Author Interview with Lucinda Brant by Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty)

lucinda

Award winning author Lucinda Brant

A great deal has happened to Lucinda Brant since our last conversation 3 years ago. When we first talked, her books were only available in e-book, but now she’s hit the mainstream and for those of you who haven’t read her books you are in for a real treat. I describe her as an author of romantic historical fiction. For several reasons, the first being she really knows her time period, and it shows in her research. She is a self-described Georgian junkie. While the love story is central, the characters are flawed, and the journeys they undertake are often those of self-discovery. As they say—how can you love someone if you can’t love yourself? The next reason is her characters, they are people of the 18th century, so you don’t see glaring political correctness. You are presented with the social classes as one would see in the 18th century. The good, the bad, and the ugliness of classism and racism that never seem to go away. Yet Lucinda seems to deal with this as elegantly and effortlessly as her stories flow.

I want to thank Lucinda Brant for taking the time to be with us today. I would like to talk about all the books since this is Ms. Brant’s first time on PBS. But we will be focusing on her newest release Deadly Peril.

 

But first, what was your career before you became a writer and how, or should I ask why did you become a writer?

I’ve always been compelled to write, since an early age. So I think I’ve always been a writer. But making a living from writing, well that took much longer to achieve! As I always say “It takes 20 years to become an overnight success”. Which is another way of expressing Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hours rule”—that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.

Before becoming a full time writer I worked in university administration, and was also a teacher. I taught History and Geography at a girls’ boarding school.

Who are your literary idols?

Three come to mind. I read these authors in my teens, and I just loved their ability to create worlds into which I could escape from the everyday. Leo Tolstoy, Jane Austen, and Anthony Trollope.

When not reading for research, what do you read and do you have any favorite authors?

I rarely have time these days for recreational reading. And I actually prefer reading for research! But when I do take a break, I read far from my genre. My favorite author for pure escapism is Andrea Camilleri who writes the Inspector Montalbano series. Montalbano is a Sicilian detective, and Camilleri’s writing is spare, and he peppers his stories with the social issues facing Italy today. He is also very witty, and I often find myself laughing out loud.

 

What books did you love as a child and would recommend that children read today?

For much of my childhood we didn’t have TV, and we didn’t have the money for holidays or going to the cinema (the closest cinema was a thirty minute train ride away), so we had to amuse ourselves. But we did have a great town library, and my parents always found the money for books. So I read—a lot! J

My favorite early childhood book was The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs. Gibbs had a terrific imagination, and was also an accomplished artist. She essentially wrote fairy stories that take place in the Australian bush.

Children should read whatever interests them. With the explosion of ebooks and availability of so many books geared to children and young adults, there’s never been a better time for reading. My daughter’s favorites were the Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, and Deltora Quest books when she was younger, and then later she read Libba Bray, Richelle Mead, Scott Westerfeld, John Green, and classics such as the Brontes, Jane Austen, and Edgar Allan Poe—to name just a few.

 

When did your self-described Georgian Junkie emerge?

Very young! When I was about eleven years old and read Alfred Cobban’s A History of Modern France 1715-1789. Yes, I was a strange child to say the least!

 

What is it about this time period that intrigues you so?

Everything! From the fashions to exploration, and the beginnings of mass production and consumption. It was the Age of Enlightenment and refinement and manners, and yet it was also a time of revolution, poverty, slavery, and health risks such as childbirth being the number one killer of women. People were beginning to question everything about their existence, and many were striving to make the world a better place.

 

I love your vivid descriptions of the houses and clothing, of London and Paris.  If you could choose one of those cities to live in, in the 18th century which would it be and why?

London. As Samuel Johnson said at the time “If you are tired of London, you are tired of life”. London was the center of the world in the 1700s.

I treated myself just after Christmas to Eternally Yours (the Roxton Letters). I loved it. Was this a little gift for your fans?

Yes, I wrote the letters for my dear readers ! (So says the dedication)  I’m so glad you enjoyed them.  I so wanted to give my fans further insight into the lives of my Roxton family. I’ll will be writing the second volume once the sixth book is written.

I love your Pinterest boards for all the books. Did you have physical inspiration boards when you started out?

Isn’t Pinterest fabulous?! I love it! My boards allow me to show my readers behind-the-scenes of each of my books, and to showcase the 18th Century, and what I love about it.

I’d never had any physical inspiration boards before, just what I collected as postcards on my travels, or pictures in my research books. So Pinterest is just perfect, for my research, and as I said above, to give my readers further insight into my stories and my characters (and to show that I do, do my research!)

I love all your books, but Alec Halsey is just hands down my favorite.  What made you want to write a mystery series?

Thank you! I always loved reading mysteries, and from a young age. Who can forget “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators” series? And then I moved on to the Jemima Shore mysteries by Antonia Fraser, Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion mysteries, and my all time favorites are the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers.

Mysteries are quite complex to plot and write, and I love the idea of the amateur aristocratic sleuth solving the crime. And the Georgian era just lends itself to murder and mayhem in aristocratic places!

You “made up” a country to set Deadly Peril in, why?  (By the way I think it works.)

Yes, I did!   But the geographical area in which the country is located isn’t made up. J It is very real, and I did a great deal of research into the geography, the weather of the area, and the geo-politics of the time. I chose East Frisia as the setting for my fictitious country of Midanich because of the stark terrain, the relentless winter weather, and because it is politically squeezed between the Netherlands and Denmark and bordered by German principalities, one of which is Hanover. The ruling dynasty of English kings are of Hanoverian descent, and in the 1760s still ruled Hanover from afar. Thus George the Third had a vested interested in that little corner of Europe and anything that might affect his Hanoverian Kingdom.

The Margravate of Midanich shares a border with Hanover. It has just been through the Seven Years’ War, and was occupied first by the French and the English, and now it is at civil war. Such a state of affairs would be of concern to the King and to his government. War could spill over into Hanover. Not only that, but the English government relies on troops from Midanich to bolster its forces overseas. So any disruption to the country means disruption to the supply of troops, which are required to help defend English territorial possessions in the American Colonies and of course, in Hanover.

I needed a country that fit the above criteria, and to be ruled by an unstable Margrave who is at war with his brother. Thus I borrowed the politics from several German principalities and made them my own in Midanich.

Many of your characters have come forward to tell their own stories, do they tell when they are ready or do you pick them?

They tell when they are ready. 🙂

I brought this up before because of your travels to Williamsburg, Virginia.  Will you be setting any of your books in the American Colonies? Charles and Sarah-Jane’s story maybe?  Please!

I’ve now visited Colonial Williamsburg three times, and just love the place! It is living history, and I learned so much just by observing and talking to the re-enactors, walking the streets, taking carriage rides, attending musical recitals and dancing lessons, and staying in 18th Century accommodations.

I may yet write Charles and Sarah-Jane’s story—or at the very least visit them. However, I first need to tell Mary’s story, and for the American Revolutionary War to end so that Charles and his family can finally make their home in the new country that is the United States of America.

 

I am very excited for Proud Mary. Can you share anything about this next novel?

I’ve felt compelled to give Mary a voice since Midnight Marriage when she was married to the pompous Sir Gerald Cavendish. Mary and her two brothers had an unhappy childhood, and this has shaped who they are. We met her brother Charles in Autumn Duchess, and know him for a supporter of the Patriot cause in the American Revolutionary War. Considered a traitor by the English, but a hero to those fighting for independence. And we discover a great deal about Mary’s elder brother Alisdair “Dair” in Dair Devil. But what about Mary, who is now a penniless widow? Is she merely a mouse with no opinions of her own? How does she feel about being the object of pity—the poor relation—of her wealthy cousins the Roxtons? As with Dair, there are hidden depths to Mary, and in her story we learn the answers to these questions, and much more.

And of course there are the continuing story threads: Antonia’s pregnancy; Jonathon’s return from Scotland; newlyweds Dair and Rory; and the hunt for the traitorous spy walking amongst them. And there are a few surprises along the way, too! J

I can’t talk to Ms. Brant without bringing up the audio versions.  She has had two very talented actors performing her books. Marian Hussey who performs Salt Bride and Salt Redux is wonderful.  Also the immensely talented Alex Wyndham who has taken on not only the Deadly series but the Roxton series as well. Many of your readers who also listen to audio books have fallen in love with Alex Wyndham’s talents.

 

Can you talk a bit about how you found these fine actors?

I found Marian when I was looking for the voice of Jane Despard. Marian has a wonderful talent for characters, particularly Jane!

I then went in search of the voice of Alec Halsey for my historical mystery series. I listened to I don’t know how many voice actors—maybe close to 50? Anyway, as soon as I heard Alex, I knew immediately he was THE ONE to be the voice, not only of Alec Halsey, but of the many characters in the series. He is a gifted actor and voice talent. I then asked him if he’d be interested in performing my historical romance series the Roxton Family Saga. He’d not done historical romance before, so I thought it a big ask. But he was more than up to the challenge, and in fact he has done a brilliant job with both series. I couldn’t be happier.

 

What is the process of taking a book from the page to audio?

It’s quite a process, because as well as the author and the narrator, there is the producer who brings everything together. BeeAudio have been wonderful in coordinating the various projects, and their sound engineers and editors have done a superb job in ensuring the sound quality and continuity are perfect.

I send the script (manuscript of the story) to the producer, along with production notes on the characters, and the narrator then reads through both, and if necessary gets in touch with any questions that require answering. The first 15 minutes are then recorded and I listen to that, and if all is well I approve this segment, the narrator then records the rest of the book. This will take several weeks, because the recording then goes to the producer, who makes certain there are no sound irregularities and that the script has been adhered to by the narrator. I’ve been told that for every hour of narration, it takes three hours of post production to ensure the quality of the recording.

When the producer is happy with the final product, it is sent to me to listen to and approve. I listen to the entire recording through my earphones, and while reading the script. Sometimes the narrator might deviate from the script, and often this is fine with me because Alex has managed to say a sentence, or put different emphasis on a particular word which can make the story that little bit better. In such cases, I will then change the script to suit. Which, though a process, is, in the age of ebooks, easy to do. I then republish the updated version of the book. In this way the reader and listener get the best possible version of my story.

 

Do the actors ever discuss the characters with you?

Yes. Alex and I have a collaborative partnership with each book, and I value Alex’s input in developing my characters for audio. This is particularly important for a series where the books span decades, such as the Roxton Family Saga, and characters grow from children into adults and then age. Taking a character on such a life journey requires skill and careful consideration on the part of the narrator.

As a professional actor Alex puts a great deal of time and effort into each character, getting the nuisances of their personality, motivation, and voice just right. He not only performs the book, Alex inhabits each character, so that they stand as individuals, and this is very clear in his audio performances.

Alex Wyndham is a very talented actor. A graduate of Oxford University (History honors) and of RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) he stuck in my mind when I first saw him in HBO’s Rome where he played Augustus Ceasar’s good friend and advisor Gaius Maecenas.  Most recently he played Captain Miles Hesketh-Thorne in PBS/BBC1’sWWI drama The Crimson Field.  I had listened to most of the audio books before I realized that I knew his film work.

He does such an amazing job in these audio books! He inhabits these characters, and as an avid audio book listener I realized his voice acting is as magical as the writing. I’ve often wondered how one person can bring so many characters flawlessly to life. So with that in mind I asked the social network group of Lucinda Brant fans (of which I am a member) Lucinda’s Gorgeous Georgian Gals if they had any questions they would like to ask Alex. Lucinda then sent Alex our questions, which he graciously agreed to answer.

So I would like to express my thanks to Alex for taking the time to indulge us, and thank the participation of Lucinda’s Gorgeous Georgian Gals.alex

Alex seems to have great fun voicing all your characters I’d be interested to know if he has favorites.

Definitely! Antonia Duchess of Roxton became a favorite—she has a lovely frank lightness to her. And sometimes performing with some accents makes things easier and more fun, as you have a musicality which you don’t have so much in English. I also loved Vallentine. Reading a whole series and going through so many experiences with the characters makes them feel very real.

1.     I’d like to ask Alex how he builds the characters and makes them so three-dimensional. For me Lucinda’s characters are as real as going to the movies, that if they walked into the room I’d know their every nuance. PS: If Lucinda’s books are made into movies, I can’t go see them unless Alex is in them!

How kind of you to say. I guess a lot of it is relying on your instincts. Everyone can read a book out loud and do the voices—and I think one’s imagination and subconscious can produce a lot of wonderful things if you learn to get out of its way (which is the tricky bit). Also you do have to put a fair bit of graft speaking in their voices to get them bedded in.

2.     Does Alex find a sense of freedom performing a book more so than when he acts in front of a camera or on stage?

Without a doubt. You are bound by so many other factors when on camera. With stage there is more freedom, but ultimately if it’s just you and the microphone and twenty plus characters you can really let loose. And you also end up playing characters you would never elsewhere—women, children, old men.

3.     How often does Alex need to take a break while recording, and does his throat suffer from changing voices so often?

Well vocal tension is important to manage—and is one if the areas you need to learn to manage if you’re going to play a wide range of voices for a sustained period of time. I usually break every hour unless I’m really in the zone.

4.     Does Alex perform and record each character separately and then digital processing puts everything in its place? How is it all done?

Wow I wish. But nope—it’s old fashioned stand in front of the mic and read the darn thing out loud cover to cover. Talking to yourself as several different people is definitely odd—but it’s actually not as hard as you think (give it a whirl!).

5.     Does Alex find it strange acting out a love scene where he plays both parts?

Ha! Only if it’s badly written (no problems there with Lucinda). If it’s well done you can just really get into the flow of it and its pretty fun. The biggest challenge is trying to ensure it doesn’t sound creepy or overblown. But I think investing in it 100% is crucial for that—if you don’t that’s where things come off the rails.

6.     Would Alex like to have lived as a Georgian gentleman?

I’d say yes, because the idea of ‘gentle’ behavior is a rather fine one I think, not to mention having a country estate to retreat to—but then if it actually happened I think I’d go mad from a life of endless leisure. Maybe I’d have to be a gentleman explorer or soldier…

7.     If this book [Deadly Peril] was made into a movie and he was offered the role of Alec, would Alex accept?

Absolutely!

8.     Besides the audio books for Lucinda—which I love Alex’s performances—is he going to do another movie or perform on stage anytime in the near future? His talent should not be limited to doing audio books—but he must continue recording Lucinda’s!

Well thank you very much. I have literally just finished a tiny cameo in BBC films’ ‘Mindhorn’ (Julian Barratt, Steve Coogan) which was a lot of fun. See if you can spot it. And I think this year should bring more stage and screen. But as an actor a lot of what happens to you is in the lap of the gods and you just have to roll with whatever comes up. Exhilarating and terrifying.

9.     Does Alex read the story first and make his decision on how to bring the characters to life through his voice, before actually recording of the book?

Always. Lots of wandering around muttering to myself trying to figure out a voice and get it settled. Also the cast needs to work well together and sound appreciably different, and characters are unpicked and revealed gradually through a book. So you need to have a comprehensive grasp of it all before you jump in. Otherwise you could end up in tricky situations where characters sound too similar or a crucial lisp is revealed after you’ve recorded half a book. Thank-you again Lucinda and Alex.

 

You can read much more about Alex Wyndham on these web sites:

Alex’s Imdb link. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2171441/

Alex’s audio book performances.
http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_hp_tseft?advsearchKeywords=alex+wyndham&filterby=field-keywords&x=0&y=0

You can find much more about Lucinda Brant on these web sites:

Pinterest boards https://www.pinterest.com/lucindabrant/

Author site http://lucindabrant.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LucindaBrantBooks/?fref=ts

Twitter https://twitter.com/LucindaBrant?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0987243071?SubscriptionId=0QCHRJVSKG6F3BRGBNG2&tag=pbs_00016-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=0987243071

 

Ms. Brant is offering two copies of Deadly Peril, and three audio codes good for an audio book download of Deadly Peril,  please leave a comment in order to be eligible for the drawing. A winner will be chosen at random from PaperBackSwap Members who leave a comment here on the Blog.  Good Luck to everyone!

 

 

 

Author Interview with Jennifer Ashley

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Author Interview with Jennifer Ashley

 

By Mirah Welday (mwelday)

 

I recently discovered the Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series by Ashley Gardner and was hooked with the first book! So far I have read the first five novels and one novella from the series.  A fine mix of gallantry, romance and mystery, the series is fun and intriguing.  After doing some research, I discovered the author was Jennifer Ashley, writing as Ashley Gardner.  I found Jennifer on twitter and made a comment that I loved Captain Lacey and would love to have an opportunity to interview Jennifer for the PBS blog…and I got a response from her!

I hope you enjoy my interview with Jennifer and that you’re inspired to pick up one of her novels, she writes a variety of genres so there’s bound to be something you’ll enjoy and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! So without further delay…..

MW: You are prolific writer, writing a variety of genres as Jennifer Ashley and Allyson James.  What made you decide to create the Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series, writing as Ashley Gardner? Is there something particular about that time period that interests you?

JA: The Regency does fascinate me, because it was such a complex time. Jane Austen’s world is only a small part of it, and even she hinted at darkness–the dangers to a woman unprotected by family, for example.  I wish I could remember *exactly* what prompted me to set the mysteries in this time period, but I think it was simply that I loved reading about it and researching it. Then when I “met” Captain Lacey, I wanted to write about him.

I love that you say you “met” Captain Lacey; I think it’s fascinating how the mind of a writer works.  What is your process when developing new ideas and writing for the series?  Approximately how long does it take you to write a book?

It takes me about 2-3 months to write a full Captain Lacey novel. I write 5-7 novels a year, total, so I can’t spend all my time on Lacey, darn it. But while I’m writing other things, I think about the book a lot, make notes, and do research on the aspects I want to bring up. I have quite a lot of material once I finally get to sit down and write.

Captain Gabriel Lacey is a dynamic character.  He has a strict sense of honor and integrity and, while a proud man, he is also humble. I think Lacey is wonderful but I am probably a bit biased since I’m married to someone in the military!  What was your inspiration for Captain Lacey?

Thank you! Actually, when I thought about doing a Regency series, I toyed with the idea of having a Regency dandy as the sleuth. Then I realized that had been done (several times–Beau Brummell has been the star of a few series), and I wanted a character the exact opposite of a wealthy Regency dandy.  I didn’t deliberately create such a character; I just let the idea swim around in my head. Captain Lacey took form and kept on growing, while I stood back and watched him. He’s a very organic character, and very real to me, in many ways.

My husband also was in the military–in the cavalry, in fact! He is a great source for information about weapons–and will quickly tell you all the gun errors made in TV shows and movies–quite a few!

Lacey isn’t the only great character in the series. I just love Grenville.  He and Lacey are an odd pair of friends in some ways but it really works!  I enjoyed The Sudbury School Murders because I think it took their friendship to a different level. What is it about the two of them that you think makes them a great pair?

Grenville is like the famous George Brummell in that his taste set fashion daily, but different because Grenville is from an old and titled family (though Grenville himself is only a distant heir to the title). Grenville has inherited a lot of money, and his wise investments have only made him richer.  At the same time, the proper English existence is not enough for him–Grenville has an adventurous streak he constantly feeds. This makes him a good friend for Lacey–Grenville envies Lacey his forays into danger, but also values Lacey’s resourcefulness and wisdom. They play off each other, though deep down inside, they are much the same: both are honorable, compassionate men who are willing to put themselves in danger for others.

If you had to cast the two of them in a movie, what actors do you think you would want to play Lacey and Grenville?

That’s a good question! I’m very bad at keeping track of who’s who in the acting world. Colin Firth certainly could play Captain Lacey. I’d be interested to hear what readers think about who should play whom.

No doubt, Colin Firth would make an incredible Captain Lacey…and I think I’d love to see Jonny Lee Miller or JJ Field as Grenville!  That’s a movie I would love to watch!  And then there’s James Denis (I’m thinking Jason Statham could play him in the movie)…he’s involved in shady dealings and is known to be a dangerous man but I can’t help but feel hopeful that deep down he’s good.  I don’t want to like him but I do! Why do you do this to me, Jennifer? Are we going to learn more about Denis in future novels?

Of course, you will learn more about Denis. He is a fascinating character to me, a villain definitely, but he has an honor, and understands that honor in Lacey. I know readers who are more or less in love with him, and that’s fine! I like him, because I’m never quite sure what he’s going to do.

Well, if you’re not sure what he’s going to do, I think we’re all going to be in for some Denis surprises!  In each novel of the series, relationships are tested.  I think A Body in Berkeley Square was all about secrets being revealed from various characters.  I can’t wait to see what happens with these relationships in future novels now that these secrets have been revealed.  Do you already know where you want these characters to end up or do you take it one book at a time?

I have a vague idea how relationships will develop over time, but I do like to take things one book at a time. I might develop something unexpected in a book, and I want to leave room for it to grow naturally, instead of forcing my characters into certain paths. So the answer is yes, I know where they’re going, and no, I don’t.  🙂  I do want to explore more of the Brandon / Lacey relationship, as well as those with other characters as the series progresses (don’t want to spoil…)

I think (so far) The Sudbury School Murders is my favorite in the series. I liked seeing the reactions of Marianne, Bartholomew, Matthias, and Lacey to the incident with Grenville.   Do you have favorite moments from the series or a favorite book?

I have a fondness for A Covent Garden Mystery, where Lacey’s past runs into his present. I liked that book. I also like A Death in Norfolk, because Lacey goes to his boyhood home and deals with more of his past. And we learn a lot about James Denis. 🙂  I also enjoy Murder in Grosvenor Square, my most recent book, which takes Lacey into the next phase of his life and makes him look hard at his friendships.

I look forward to getting to those books in the series! The friendships are one of the things I enjoy most about the series.  But I also enjoy the characters, secrets, intrigue, love, scandal.  When you read for enjoyment, what types of books or authors do you like?

When I have a chance to read for enjoyment, I like mystery novels (currently very fond of Kerry Greenwood). I also like biographies and social histories, sci-fi / fantasy that has a lot of action / adventure, and have decided I really like steampunk too! It’s a fun genre where almost anything goes. I have the hankering to write some. 🙂

Steampunk is very fun! I’d enjoy to read your take on it. According to your website, you’ll be releasing book 10 in the series, The Thames River Murders, soon.  Can you share any insight into this installment and what might be in store for Gabriel Lacey in the future? Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to share with the readers at PaperBackSwap?

Yes, I plan to have The Thames River Murders out this summer. (check my website http://www.gardnermysteries.com  periodically for pre-order info). This one will be a cold case brought to Lacey by Thompson of the Thames River Police, but it will have ties to Lacey’s current life.

I also have many other series going! The Shifters Unbound series (paranormal romance) continues in April with Mate Bond, with more installments in June and July. The Mackenzies series then picks up in August, September, and October. I’m writing a new era of Mackenzies, going back to the 1745 uprising.

I’ve also begun a new contemporary romance series called Riding Hard, which is lighter and sweeter than most of my series–it’s a small-town family saga rather than heavy romance.

I’m also continuing my Stormwalker (urban fantasy series) this year. Would like to put out a book and perhaps a novella, but I’m still in planning stages.

That’s a lot of writing! You are one busy woman, Jennifer, so I won’t keep much longer! I’d like to end with some fun rapid fire questions….

Chocolate of Vanilla?

CHOCOLATE!

Ok, I love that you used all caps and an exclamation!  You’re my kind of woman!

Cake or Pie?

Cake (and tortes). Though I just made a kick-butt coconut cream pie that really turned out well!

Yum, I’d love that recipe!

Winter or Summer?

Summer–love the heat!

Cats or Dogs?

I love them both equally. Though I have cats. Devil cats.

Morning or Night?

Night. I live in the desert. I like darkness.

Coffee or Tea?

Tea!!! Unlike Captain Lacey, who loves his coffee, I can’t stand it! 🙂 Tea, I drink by the gallon.

I agree, tea is delicious!

And on that note, I’d like to thank Jennifer for being so generous with her time. It’s been a joy to get to know her better and learn about her writing process and upcoming works.  For more information on the Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series, check out Jennifer’s website:  http://www.gardnermysteries.com and for more on Jennifer’s other series and genres, check http://www.jenniferashley.com.

 

 

 

 

Author Interview and Book Give-Away with Dr. Harold Shinitzky

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

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Dr. Shinitzky is one of the very first authors to be interviewed on our PaperBackSwap Blog. He has a new book out and has agreed to another interview! Thank you Dr. Shinitzky, and welcome back!

 

Your new book, Take Control of Your Anxiety: A Drug Free Approach to Living a Happy, Healthy Life, published last month, addresses an issue many people seem to suffer with, anxiety. Why this topic? Are anxiety disorders on the rise today?

You ask a great question, why did we (Drs. Shinitzky, Cortman and O’Connor) choose to write this book covering specifically this one topic, anxiety?  If you think you are alone and the only one suffering from anxiety, it might be helpful to realize that anxiety has become the “Common Cold of Mental Health”.  18% of the adult US population satisfies the criteria for any one of the anxiety disorders.  That’s approximately 40 million people.  So, when someone says you are One-in-a-Million, you really are One-in-a-Group-of-40.  Anxiety disorders are more commonly discussed today than ever before.  The topic of anxiety has been on the front cover of major magazines, discussed on all television networks and due to the proliferation of social media anxiety has become a buzz word throughout society.  The reality is that anxiety does not appear to be on the rise but we as a society have become more aware and willing to discuss, assess and seek treatment for a condition that previously went untreated and oftentimes disabled individuals.  What is unique about our book, Take Control of Your Anxiety: A Drug-Free Approach to Living a Happy, Healthy Life we are not anti-medication, we have chosen to empower individuals by teaching a range of behavioral steps that they can use to help manage or resolve their stress or anxiety.

 

Is there a level of anxiety in everyone? Isnt some anxiety a normal reaction to everyday life?

When discussing the topic of anxiety it is vitally important to start by sharing the reality that everyone experiences “anxiety”.   In actuality, the more accurate term would be “arousal”.  As a species, we are built to handle arousal to our system.  You wake and realize that you have a classroom presentation to give in one week.  You question if you are prepared for a job interview.  You have a competitive sporting event this weekend.  You want to ask that person out.  Whenever you perceive some stressor you tend to react.  This natural reaction or arousal is actually healthy.  It alerts you.  It drives you to become active.  As a matter of fact there is a simple yet elegant equation that explains anxiety, Investment + Perceived Threat (real or imagined) = Anxiety.  If you don’t have a horse in this race, you won’t be too concern as to the outcome.  Likewise, if you don’t perceive a threat to this invested situation, you don’t experience any arousal.  There is a great way to describe the normal process of anxiety or arousal.  Imagine a capital letter “U”.  Now imagine the “U” upside-down.  shin

Several years ago, a concept was postulated by Yerkes-Dodson called the “Inverted-U” law.  As your system perceives stress or arousal or anxiety, you become alerted and your performance actually rises.  The left side of the inverted-U curve is healthy stress, also known as Eustress.  As you awaken your system to address your life circumstance you ascend to your optimal performance levels.  This is when you are attentive, applying yourself, committed, and as the athletes that I treat would say, they are in the “zone”.  The problem exists when someone becomes too aroused at which point the curve reflects the Law of Diminishing Returns.  The right side of the inverted-U curve is unhealthy, also known as Distress.  In Take Control of Your Anxiety: A Drug-Free Approach to Living a Happy, Healthy Life we start by helping individuals realize that we all experience anxiety, that it is normal and that if managed properly can be very helpful towards achieving your goals.

 

How can someone tell if anxiety is controlling their life?

We encourage people to look at their anxiety based on three factors, Frequency, Duration and Intensity.  As we mentioned earlier that anxiety is normal, we therefore have to consider these three factors as important towards discovering the extent and impact of anxiety in your life.  The three factors can be posed as questions that you ask yourself. First, How often (frequency) do I experience this emotion?  When I get anxious, how long does it last (duration)?  Finally, when it happens, how extreme (intensity) is my anxiety?  I had treated a young man who told me that he was a very health conscious individual which is why he chose to use the stairs rather than take the elevator.  The problem was that my office is on the 24th Floor.  By the time he got to my floor our scheduled appointment was over.  Clearly, his fear of the elevator cable snapping and plummeting to his untimely death led him to avoid the elevator and create a logical explanation.  Another gentleman that I treated would leave his house each morning, lock his front door, and walk to his car and then question if he had truly locked the front door.  His intrusive thoughts and fears that someone would now have free access to his home and belongings led him to return to the front door and relock it.  Again, upon entering his vehicle, he second guessed himself wondering if he had just unlocked a locked door, leaving all of his worldly possessions ripe for the picking.  This pattern would occur between 20 and 25 times each morning.  Can you imagine what the neighbors thought when they observed this repetitive behavior each and every morning.  If your anxiety is interfering in your school responsibilities, social/interpersonal life, or vocation you may need to work with a respected professional. 

 

Who should read this book?

Who is our book for? Humans.  What, you want more than that as my answer?  We have written this as a self-help book for the general public.  We hope that we have penned a book that is both educational and entertaining, or as we like to say, “Edutainment”. Our goal is for anyone struggling with an issue of anxiety or if you know someone that is adversely affected by anxiety to read, Take Control of Your Anxiety: A Drug-Free Approach to Living a Happy, Healthy Life and learn steps towards addressing and resolving the angst in their life.  We have divided the book into discussing the normalcy of anxiety, causes of anxiety, creative as well as comprehensive tools to address anxiety, and finally we covered the five most common anxiety disorders that we see in our clinical practices (e.g.; Phobias, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). 

 

Chapter 3 begins: Bright lights, loud noises, the taste of rocky mountain oysters—there are but a few stimuli that are deemed to be universal stressor and consistently cause anxiety in humans. The rest are in your head. Is it all really just a matter of changing one’s view of things?

As Wayne Dwyer is oftentimes quoted, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Yes, it truly comes down to perception.  Remember the equation, Investment + Perceived Threat (real or imagined) = Anxiety.  I ask your readers to consider this concept.  What makes me nervous may not make you worry and what makes you anxious may not make me stressed.  Your feelings are statements of You.  Not everyone reacts the same way to a situation.  Some people love public speaking while others would rather have their non-dominant arm torn off.  Your feelings are statements about your Perception of Reality, not about reality.  A child who becomes fearful that someone is breaking into the house even though they know the branches from the tree rub against their window, still wants her mommy to stay with her until she falls asleep.  (I’m wondering why the parents just don’t cut the branches back).  Your emotions are reflecting upon your Investment.  Three people watched the Super Bowl together.  One jumped for joy as their team won.  The second person cried with their head and their hands in defeat.  The third person stared at the other two with a perplexed look wondering why two grown adults would be reacting so mightily to a game played by other people who could never hear their cheers as if their own lives depended on the outcome.  It is a pleasure to help individuals realize that if they develop healthier, more adaptive coping skills that challenge their previous methods they can overcome their greatest fears and worries.  The most common reaction that people display to an anxiety producing situation is avoidance. Once they avoid the stress inducing situation, their anxiety and worry decreases but only in the short-term.  Avoidance never provides long-term resolution.  A young lady that I treated was afraid of dogs.  All dogs, even a baby Cocker Spaniel. She would avoid the beast by darting across the street.  The short-lived relief by avoidance quickly vanished when out from a different store came a woman carrying a purse with a Tea Cup Chihuhua.  Again, the holy terror of this vicious creature would elicit fear and avoidance.  The only remaining option was to avoid the sidewalks and head to the middle of the street.  When working with individuals who possess anxiety it is important to empower the person by understanding that your emotions are statements of You, Your Perception of Reality and Reflect your Investment. 

After this awareness becomes solidified we then turn our focus on how this person is experiencing “anxiety”.  Anxiety can occur in one of three forms; Physiological, Thoughts and Feelings.  Some people only experience physical stress, tightness or changes in their heart rate and breathing.  Some individuals have intrusive thoughts and negative self-talk.  Lastly, other individuals might experience fears, worries and dread about the future events.  You might have one or a combination of the three.  Once we identify how someone is experiencing anxiety, an appropriate treatment plan can be created to address any of these three forms of distress.

This is your second book coauthored with Dr. Chris Cortman. What is next for you? Will you collaborate on another book together?

This has been a magnificent experience collaborating with Dr. Cortman again.  In our current Anxiety book we also co-authored with Dr. Laurie-Ann O’Connor who offered exceptional insights into the realm of Mindfulness, Yoga and other forms of helpful coping skills for anxiety.  Dr. Cortman and I have now converted our first book, Your Mind: An Owner’s Manual for a Better Life (Career Press, 2009) into an evidence-based youth prevention curriculum titled, The Social Black Belt (SBB).  We wanted to share the 10 Truths from our first book to a young audience.  We have now conducted two separate research studies to assess the impact of the SBB on the students’ Knowledge, Attitude and Behavior.  Just like in the martial arts, when you attained your highest level of skill, you receive a black belt.  When you possess a black belt you don’t go looking for trouble but when trouble presents itself, you can handle the situation.  Through the Social Black Belt, we proactively provide a range of skills through this onsite, interactive, fun-filled prevention program to today’s students.  Once they have attained their Social Black Belt, they don’t go looking for trouble but when trouble presents itself they can handle the situation.  Students are more self-confident, possess greater assertiveness, set healthy personal boundaries and are able to set long-term and short-term goals.  The SBB helps address bullying behaviors and fosters the development of pro-social behaviors.  The SBB is now being replicated across the country.  For more information on the Social Black Belt go to www.thesocialblackbelt.com
 
 
Who is your favorite author? What book was your favorite when you were a child?

My favorite book when I was a child was, Harold and the Purple Crayon.  Guess what? My favorite color is purple and I still like to draw images and then entering into them for an exciting adventure.

 

 

Do you read self-help books?

Yes, I like reading self-help books.  I believe that we all have room for improvement.  A recent book that I read was, How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life by the Dalai Lama.

 

Was there someone who influenced you when you were young to pursue psychology as a career?

When I was 15 years old a family member commented about my interpersonal style and how people turned to me with questions that I helped them to discover their answers.  They informed me that there was a profession called, Psychology.  I was introduced to 5 different Psychologists with different sub-specialties which I found extremely interesting.  So, I declared my major at 15 years old.  My high school Psychology teacher, Mr. Albiani was an incredible individual and mentor for better understanding the field of Psychology.

If you weren’t a psychologist, what would you be?

An artist or a tennis player.

Golf or hockey?

Golf

Skittles or M&Ms?

M&Ms.  The more chocolate the better.

Beach or mountains?

Beach

Lady Gaga or Tony Bennett?

I’d pay to see Lady Bennett or Tony Gaga.  I could see both.

 

To read more about Dr. Shinitzky you can visit his website: www.drshinitzky.com.

To read the first Author Interview Dr. Shinitzky did with us for the PaperBackSwap Blog click here:

Dr. Harold Shinitzky of Your Mind: An Owner’s Manual for a Better Life

 

Dr. Shinitzky has generously offered 3 brand new copies of his book, Take Control of Your Anxiety: A Drug-Free Approach to Living a Happy, Healthy Life,

to 3 PaperBackSwap members who comment on this blog. The Winners will be chosen at random from the entries we receive.

 

 

 

 

 

Winner! The Winner of The Love Book by Nina Solomon is

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

 

The winner of Nina Solomon‘s brand new book, The Love Book, is:

Susan C. (couponchampion)

 

Congratulations Susan, your book will be out to you shortly!

Thank you Vostromo for introducing us to another great author and thank you to Ms. Solomon for agreeing to be interviewed by Vostromo and thank you for the copy of your new book to give away to one of our members!

To read the interview click here.

 

Author Interview and Book Give-Away – Nina Solomon

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

 

An Interview with Author Nina Solomon by Greg (VOSTROMO)

 

NINA SOLOMON is a die-hard New Yorker, Columbia graduate, BFF to our previous Vostrinterview subject Elizabeth Crane, could stand to snack on some Entenmann’s from time to time (just saying), and I don’t trust her mother. She is the subject of one of my more potentially embarrassing male moments, which affords me a great story when people ply me with frozen margaritas, and what makes it even better is I’m not completely sure she knows what I’m referring to. Her debut novel SINGLE WIFE was a Literary Guild, Book-of-the-Month Club and QPB selection, and was praised by Elle as having “both flair and heart” — which pretty much describes her too. Only skinnier. Her new novel THE LOVE BOOK will be published in January by Kaylie Jones / Akashic Books. More at ninasolomonbooks.com.

*****

VOSTROMO: Welcome, Nina, and thanks for spending some time with us. Reading through the press materials for your new novel The Love Book I was struck by an incident you relate where an admirer “began showering me with pastries.” I’m wondering: where did this take place, and do you think he’s still there? What kind of pastries were these? cheese danish? coffee cake? muffins? were they muffins? were the muffins iced? buttercreme, or the cheap stuff? Did you eat them all? If you did, did you gain any weight?

NINA SOLOMON: Did I eat them all? Did I eat them all? I thought you knew me better than that. I have never been known to leave a dessert unfinished, unless it’s laced with rum, which makes me nauseous. The pastry-plying admirer was the guard at my son’s school, but on the side he studied at the Culinary Institute of America (the other CIA) and besides fancy pastries like mille-feuille, Napoleons, almond croissants, he used to bring me entire cakes. Did I gain weight? No, not an ounce.

V: Also in the kit are references to finding a kitten in a grocery store and a man’s mock marriage proposal in a supermarket; your acknowledgments mention a friend’s saffron risotto; and in the novel itself one character is moved to ask “Are there any pizza bagels left?” while another stops at a deli for cookies on her way home. Indeed, of the thirty-four chapters comprising The Love Book, thirty-four of them have some type of eating and drinking. Given this focus on the notion of love as food for the soul, a question: how do you stay so thin?

NS: I only gain weight during football season when Edy’s makes Touchdown Sundae ice cream.

 

V: Your first book Single Wife is shaped by the structural outlines of the mystery novel, while The Love Book begins as a classic winding road trip. Given this appreciation of genre contours, tell us a bit about your own exercise regimen and how you maintain that youthful, girlish figure.

NS: Thank you, V, no other reviewer has ever asked me that. My mother, whom you do not trust, once saw me reaching for a second piece of fudge and said, “Don’t ruin your boyish figure.” You can’t both be right. I guess I respond to shaming. The “friend” who makes the amazing saffron risotto is also an exercise fiend and gets me to climb one hundred flights of stairs every day by telling me that if I don’t, I’ll start responding to “Lard-ass.” I think he’s also a bit of a sadist. He calls me a sugar smack head, then brings home three half-gallons of Edy’s Touchdown Sundae and a two-by-four mega Toblerone bar. A few days later he’ll innocently ask me where the ice cream went. You have to be fast around here.

 

V: You’ve been quite open about the inspiration behind The Love Book, namely your own experience looking for new romance after the end of your marriage. You describe finding a real-life “love book” and following its methods to a happily fruitful outcome. Given that dining out is a universal aspect of dating, and that your current boyfriend is French — we know ze French love ze gastronomie — can you offer our readers any advice from your own journey on staying slender while on the market?

NS: Staying slender while I was on the market was easy. There was no one to cook for me.

V: A major theme underlying much of Western literature is the quest for personal value — identity, place, purpose — outside of that set and defined by social expectation. In both Single Wife and The Love Book a woman revises and expands her sense of self beyond being wife, mother, object of male attention. Would you say that one’s inner journey burns as many calories as jogging, or spin class? Is carrying emotional baggage as effective as free weights?

NS: From personal experience, I would say that emotional baggage is at least as effective at burning calories as sleep.

 

V: We’ve mentioned that you are very close friends with Betsy Crane, herself a successful author. How’s Betsy’s weight these days?

NS: Betsy is successful and svelte. She recently suggested I begin calculating points. I’ve found it a useful tool to help moderate my intake of food. As Oprah says, nothing tastes as good as thin feels! Did you know that one cup of premium Edy’s Touchdown Sundae ice cream is only 20 points? That leaves me 6 points to splurge on rainbow sprinkles (and it’s not even noon)!

 

V: You’re on the faculty of Wilkes University — on their website is a “Healthy Dorm Cookbook” which I have to tell you is awesome. Which do you prefer, the Apple Sandwiches or the Curried Tuna Salad, and which would you say is more effective at losing the “freshman fifteen?”

NS: Apple Sandwiches? Really? There’s a recipe for that? The good news is that a 16 Handles has recently opened in beautiful Wilkes-Barre. They have a totally awesome non-fat, sugar-free frozen yogurt. If you only add twelve ounces of caramel and sprinkles, you’ll be beach body ready before long.

 

V: Finally, I too am slender — why haven’t I been published?

NS: I just calculated your BMI — it’s a gift — and determined that you are indeed at your ideal weight! It shouldn’t be long before you too have a book deal and then I’ll be interviewing you. Only better.

 

 

Nina Solomon has generously offered a brand new trade-size paperback copy of her new book The Love Book, to a member who comments on the blog. Winner will be chosen at random, Friday, December 19, 2014 at 12 noon EST.

Thanks to Vostromo for another valiant attempt to grapple with the definition of “interview” and to Nina Solomon for playing along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Author & PBS Member and Book Give-Away

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

We asked and WOW did we get a response! We are very happy to announce the beginning of a new feature here on the PaperBackSwap Blog. We are proud to give a showcase to our Members who are also Authors by sharing some of their work. We will have Author Interviews, Book Reviews and Book Give-Aways of some of our own very talented Members!

We begin this series with an interview with Member and Author H.L. Blake. We hope you enjoy!

Seagirl by  H. L. Blake

Cheryl: Thank you Ms. Blake for agreeing to an interview with us for the PBS Blog. I thoroughly enjoyed your book, Seagirl. Where did the idea come from?

Ms. Blake: I have always loved the ocean, even though I haven’t been lucky enough to live near it. My sister had her wedding on a beach in North Carolina, and we stayed in a beach house there for a few days before the ceremony. It was an amazing experience that stayed with me for weeks when I came back to “inlander” civilization. I was looking for a book to recapture the magic feeling of that trip and couldn’t find just the right one. Then I woke up at 4 a.m. with Serena’s story fully formed in my head, wrote the first and last chapter that morning, and filled in the rest in the next few weeks.

Are you as enamored with the sea as Serena?

Oh yes. When Serena’s stream of consciousness talks about her love of the ocean, that is me talking. And some people do give me funny looks when I go on and on about it! I still don’t know why I don’t live there. Someday perhaps.

 

There is a theme of loss through the book, and all of the main characters seem to deal with their losses in different ways. But returning to the sea is healing for all of them, has there been a place of healing for you?

I think nature in general is healing for me. A quiet stream in the hills of Pennsylvania with nothing else around – the desolation and grandeur of the northern part of the Grand Canyon without all the tourist traps – and of course the rush and wind of the ocean. These places clear all the detritus of the world away and show the earth in its raw, original form, clean, breathtaking, and wild. When I spend time there, my mind is clearer and my soul made calmer by the experience.

 

This book is referred to as Young Adult fiction with a dash of fantasy, but I believe it is a book that young people and adults will enjoy equally. Did you write it as a book for young adults?

Young Adult fiction is a funny genre. I think when the main character is of that age, publishers and perhaps readers too automatically identify it as young adult fiction. I personally enjoy YA lit and read it extensively, even though I am a few years past that age myself! But I did try to keep the vocabulary and prose to an age appropriate to a main character in her early twenties, so by extension it would likely be comfortable for a reader of that age. Certainly, any age is welcome to read and enjoy it – we can all be YA at heart!

 

I related to Serena’s struggle with acceptance, both of her mother’s death and coming to terms with herself and her father. I wanted to tell her to take the time she needs to heal. Was there anything you would have liked to say to Serena?

Don’t let people tell you what you need to feel. The pressures from around Serena led her to suppress her emotions unhealthily for years, to the extent that she cut herself off somewhat from others, and it was painful to try to “live” again after all that time. Persons, even well-meaning loved ones, can cause great harm by telling those in pain to get over it. Only the one who has been hurt has the right to say what she is feeling and what she needs to survive and heal in time.

 

Serena is an artist, using her art as a means to survive. Do you find being creative is as necessary for yourself?

Absolutely. Writing is my lifeline and has been as long as I can remember. When I write, it is like opening a vein onto the page, my whole heart and soul given to the art – certainly it can be raw and painful – but afterwards I have something real and beautiful, and feel that ugliness and pain has been drained away. My poetry is most like that, my prose also to an extent. For me, writing Seagirl was a difficult but ultimately very healing experience.

 

Serena loves sea creatures as much as she loves the sea. Have you ever seen a mermaid?

*Laughing* I wish I could say I had. I did believe in fairies and unicorns long past the age when one usually gives up such things, and still greatly enjoy escaping into the world of fantasy. Just because they only exist as words on a page does not make such things not real – they are as real as your own inner thoughts, dreams, and imagination. You don’t have to give up dreaming and believing just because you are an “adult”!

 

Being a long time member of PaperBackSwap, do you find being an author and a member is at odds for you?

I’m not sure what you mean by “at odds” unless you mean that “reading” time takes away from “writing” time. That much is true! I have to force myself, as E. L. Konigsburg says, “to apply the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair and finish!” Sometimes the lure of the freshly arrived paperback in the mail overcomes the desire to give hours of blood, sweat, and tears into finishing a chapter or two of my own next novel. But I suppose I can always claim my reading time as research into the genre…

 

What is next for you?

I have previously written a science fiction novel for middle grades, which needs some editing before I try and publish it too. I also have a dystopia in the works (what author nowadays does not?) which is going to be very hard to finish, but I know will be my best work yet. My greatest hope is to be published more widely. It is very difficult (impossible) to break into authorship these days. Online- and self-publishing gives starving artists like me an outlet, but the one single item on my bucket list is genuine national publication. Here’s hoping.

 

Thank you Ms. Blake for this interview!

Ms. Blake has generously offered 2 brand-new autographed copies of her book, Seagirl to members who comment here on the Blog.

Good luck to everyone!