Sunday 12 November 2017

Q & A with Stella Knights

Taken Outback 
The Dusty Rider Series #1
by Stella Knights 

An American woman, named Holly, has everything she could possibly want living in the city of Melbourne. Her Australian husband, Tom, works hard chasing his hierarchical corporate dreams, so much so that he forgoes Holly’s happiness. Fighting to make their marriage work, Holly uncovers secrets about Tom, causing her to question all she ever believed in. 

Distractions abound as Holly starts a new job, where she meets a charming stranger in the unlikeliest of circumstances. Her imagination is opened to a possible new way of life, lust and love as she is given a chance to see how she can break free from the shackled boundaries set by a stifling city lifestyle.

Will she ever be able to go back to living the only way she ever knew or will she embrace the life offered to her? This love story is one of fear versus freedom, power versus submission and scheduled time versus endless time as city and country life collide. 

Imagine breaking free of city life and losing yourself in the Australian Outback. This contemporary romance will show you there’s more than just kangaroos out in the country.

The Dusty Rider Series will take you across Australia as Holly meets a stockman "cowboy" that shows her what real love is. This romantic story is about a possible second chance at life and love as Holly tries to follow her heart. Will she take a chance at this new life full of action and passionate, erotic adventure?

This series is for mature audiences. 

Kindle Edition, 275 pages
Published March 31, 2017

Find it on Goodreads
Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Read It & Reap:  November 12, 2017

Stella Knights has lived and worked in several countries across four continents, journaling her life experiences along the way. After university, she traveled extensively and worked in several career paths, including as a Parole Officer.

Blurring the lines between her reality and dreams, Stella found the courage to share her stories in hope that she will inspire others with her love of travel and living life the simple way.

Stella loves to connect with both readers and other authors sharing experiences and books. Books are such an important part of life.

Having spent most of her life in Australia, Stella wrote her first novel series based on things she experienced and learned about while living there. Stella hopes that The Dusty Rider Series opens others to the resilience, hardship, beauty and eternal love of those living in the Australian bush.

Connect with Stella Knights

Q & A with Stella Knights

Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
The idea behind my characters came from two aspects. The first, was from my own experience of moving from a city in America to a rural area in Australia. I always wanted to write about the rollercoaster of feelings and changes that happen when one takes a risk to drastically change their life. The second, was my work as a parole officer. It is nothing like what you see in the movies! I was constantly surrounded by people trying to alter their path in life. I found the concept of rebuilding or starting over quite fascinating and saw first-hand how this can play out in many ways.

In the series, my main character, Holly, is searching for what to do when her marriage is falling apart. She desperately believes in love, but struggles with what is considered right and wrong based on society’s standards. For Holly, city life becomes stifling, but at first, she has no idea how to escape from it. I do not want to give away any spoilers, but I have tried to create a storyline that gives Holly a chance to try out a new life to see if this is what she wants. A new man opens Holly up to passion she never knew existed. He has a dark past that he will have to overcome as the series progresses. In the course of the series, Holly transforms from being pretentious to being down-to-earth as her eyes are opened to new ways and adventure.

So, what will Holly choose in the end? Old life versus new life? City versus country? You will have to read to find out.

Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?
I have a friend that is a graphic designer and he helped me translate my ideas into reality. In Book One’s image, you can see Holly wearing high heels as a reflection of being from the city. I purposely kept the faces of my characters hidden on my covers because I want the reader to imagine themselves as one of the characters. I had a very open mind when I worked with my friend in the designs, so when I saw the final design I was in instantly in love with it…but I do have to say that Book Two’s design is my favourite in the series.

Describe your ideal writing spot.
I travel often so there are a few spots that I find are best for bringing out my creativity. The main one is in any coffee shop that has a funky vibe and a great latte. Coffee shops are a great place to people watch and observe how communication can take place between both words and body language. I think as a writer this helps me keep it real with how my characters interact. The other spots I look for would be around a pool or a beach. I find being near water helps get my creativity flowing.

What is the best advice you have been given?
Always stay true to yourself. I find this is very relevant in both life and writing. Often, people may want to alter your character or your storyline, but you must remember it is your story and your voice. Don’t shy away from creating characters that may push someone’s buttons or challenge the status quo. It is important that we try to see things from all angles, even if it can be  uncomfortable.

 As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Funny enough, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was obsessed with space and I even begged my parents to let me go to Space Camp. I read every book I could get my hands on about space, space travel or the planets. I filled notebook after notebook with poems and I wrote about my dreams of exploring space. I am not sure when I changed paths, but somewhere along the lines I went the other direction and studied marine biology and molecular biology. I was fascinated by what is in our oceans and also the tiniest things in our universe.

Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks?
Being conscientious of the environment, I hope we all move more towards eBooks. Though, I have to say I love trawling bookstores and being surrounded by all those pages filled with words. So much to read, so little time!

If you could have any supernatural power, what would you choose and why?
I would love to be able to teleport back in time. I always felt I was born in the wrong era, so I think it would be fun to go back in time and see what life was really like at different times in history. I know with nostalgia we often romanticize things, so it would be intriguing to experience it first-hand and see if it was really like all the old Hollywood movies I love watching over and over. I think I would have loved experiencing life back in the 1920’s being a flapper girl or supporting our troops going off to war in the WWII.

What book are you reading now? 
I have a couple books I just bought while attending the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Indonesia. The festival was inspiring, and I met some amazing women that are trying to change the world with their writing. I learned how important it is for us to all tell our story. I’ll probably start with the book Lotus by Lijia Zhang. Listening to her speak alongside Jung Chang was amazing. They both discussed the importance of not losing our histories even if they are painful to reflect on. Life is not always nice, but we can possibly change our future by putting our voice out there. I feel we are witnessing a change right now where women are starting to be heard and I hope it is the start of a new chapter for women to be empowered and less afraid to speak their mind.

Thursday 2 November 2017

Q & A with J.G. Follansbee

Carbon Run 
Tales From A Warming Planet #2
by J.G. Follansbee 

What if your father had to run for his life? Carbon Run is an exciting thriller set in a dystopian world ravaged by climate change. Fossil fuels are banned, pirates smuggle oil, and governments erase citizens' identities. Anne Penn dreamed of saving an endangered species of birds. When a fire destroys the birds' last home, her beloved father Bill is accused of starting the blaze. Fanatic officer Janine Kilel comes to arrest Anne's father, but Bill escapes, because in the 22nd century, destroying a species means execution. How will Anne find her father in a Russian city where the difference between good and evil is as murky as the choking smog? 

338 pages
Published October 21st 2017 

Find it on Goodreads
Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Read It & Reap:  February 11, 2018

J.G. Follansbee is the author of science fiction and speculative fiction novels set on an Earth and in a society transformed by climate change. A writer who publishes independently, Follansbee explores themes of survival, justice, and tolerance with strong female protagonists and antagonists. Mr. Follansbee supports meaningful clean energy and transportation policies that combat the damaging effects of climate change.

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                             Q & A with J.G. Follansbee

                               Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
Anne Penn is an intelligent, hard-working young woman who lives with her father on a ranch in southern Oregon. She's a sharp observer who has spent several years helping biologists study an endangered species of birds. Her father, Bill Penn, is an ex-tall ship sailor who is forced to return to the sea after he is accused of causing the deaths of the birds his daughter studies. He sails aboard a ship that crosses the top of the world after all the Arctic Ocean's ice melts away. Janine Kilel is a deputy inspector in the Bureau of Environmental Security who is tasked with finding and arresting Bill Penn for his crimes. Kilel uses Anne Penn as bait to draw Bill out of hiding.

In your opinion, what makes a good, strong lead character?
A strong lead character drives the narrative forward. She is not a passive bystander. I like strong female characters, because they provide a unique perspective on the action, and they often have different goals than male protagonists. For example, I wanted Anne Penn to have an unbreakable tie to her father, which drives her to work toward reuniting with him to preserve her family. A male character might be more interested in proving himself to peers to show his masculinity. Readers have seen plenty of that over the centuries.

What or who do you see as influences on your writing style?
I admire many writers, including Margaret Atwood, Rod Serling, and Harlan Ellison. The biggest influence on my style comes from episodic television and movies. I try to write well-structured scenes and often think of chapters as similar to episodes of a well-crafted TV series. My favorite show ever, by the way, is Star Trek: The Original Series.

Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?
For Carbon Run and the upcoming books in my series, Tales From A Warming Planet, I read several books on climate change, and I constantly read articles on the subject. I've tried to base the world of Carbon Run on accepted, proven science. For the tall ship scenes, I drew on my experience working for a non-profit that operates two ships, as well as my maritime history research that resulted in three non-fiction books.

What is the best writing advice you have been given?
Write every day, even if it's just a note, an email, or a tweet. Most readers and new writers see only the final product: a book. Of course, writing a novel is a process done one step at a time. If you write just one page a day, in a year, you'll have 365 pages. That's about the right length for a book manuscript.

If you could have any superpower, what would you choose and why?
I wish I had a power that could make adversaries see that they have more in common than they have differences. Maybe then, we'd all get along better.

What do you do to unwind and relax?
My wife and I own a small vacation house on the Pacific Coast of Washington State. We wish we could spend more time there. Also, I love watching my home town NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks. Go Hawks!

What book are you reading now?
I'm reading The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu. It's a great story that calls to mind classic science fiction of the mid-20th century. I think science fiction fans should keep a close eye on Chinese sci-fi writers. They're going to amaze us.