I am excited and pleased to welcome the award winning novelist Kai Strand. Kair writes children, middle grade and young adult novels and short stories. She’s hear today to talk about first crushes and her book, BEWARE OF THE WHITE, plus enter to win a prize package.
Beware of the White by Kai Strand
I had my first crush in second grade. His name was Scott and to be sure he knew I had a crush on him, I’d kick him in the shins as often as I could. I was the best kicker on the playground. I’d chase him all over the playground and out onto the baseball fields until I caught him. I was also the fastest runner on the playground. Well, my best friend, Erin, and I were neck and neck. Poor Scott. He never stood a chance.
In BEWARE OF THE WHITE Terra has her first crush on her security guard, Frank. Being twelve instead of seven, she doesn’t kick him in the shins though. She throws him against a wall. Poor Frank.
About the book
As is tradition, Terra learns on the Saturday past her twelfth birthday that she is a Natures Spirit. It is her legacy to serve in the peaceful underground city of Concord. Learning she is named in a prophecy and being threatened by the leader of the death tribe…that part breaks tradition.
The Trepidus are the death janitors of the Underworld, responsible for delivering fatalities with a smile and cleaning up after themselves until Blanco, recent leader of the Trepidus, decides the day of reckoning for his species is coming. He begins organizing the creatures and leads them toward an uprising. The prophecy says there is one person who can stop him. Terra.
With Spirit of Security, Frank, protecting her, Terra attempts to complete her training and discover her Spirit talents. Together, they go on a rogue investigation to learn how to defeat Blanco. In the end, it comes down to a battle of the minds. The future of Concord is at stake. Will Blanco, the older, more experienced being win? Or will Terra, the young, new Spirit earn back the peace of the city?
Kai Strand writes fiction for kids and teens. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, “Do your dishes!” She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home.
To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: http://www.kaistrand.com/.
She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her Facebook page, Kai Strand, Author.
To celebrate the launch of BEWARE OF THE WHITE, Kai Strand has awesome book related prize packages. Be sure to enter to win. And return again and again to claim entries as you qualify.
Kai will also have Spontaneous Giveaways during her book tour. Those giveaways won’t be announced so be sure to follow Kai’s tour.
Only virtual stalkers will have the opportunity at all the fun!
Please join me in welcoming the multi-talented, award winning author, Denise Agnew, as she talks about her trilogy which take place in an asylum.
Denise is also giving away a paperback of one of her books. (Contest details below.)
Selena: Thank you for joining me, Denise. Let’s get right to the heart of this interview and your biggest quirk (okay, maybe not a quirk for you, but anyone who loves spooky movies is quirky to me).
I know you love scary movies. Is there a movie that makes your goosebumps sprout goosebumps?
Denise: Glad to be here, Selena, and isn’t your comment about quirks is a little bit of the pot calling the kettle? 🙂
Movies don’t generally scare me, but I will admit that the trailers for The Exorcist still make hairs on my body stand up. The two spooky movies I found the scariest weren’t horror movies. Seven and Silence of The Lambs were extremely disturbing in that scary way. Two of my favorite classic horror movies are The Exorcist and The Shining. Slasher flicks mostly bore me. Okay, exception to that would be the Scream franchise. I love the way those movies don’t take themselves too seriously.
Selena: You’re an eclectic writer; historical, suspense, paranormal, sexy stories with hot heroes and strong heroines, holiday themed stories and even sexily sweet stories. What makes the Asylum trilogy unique, compared to your other books?
Denise: These books are definitely romances, just as all my stories, but I threw in the kitchen sink with this trilogy. I was trying to do a lot of things in three books.
Paranormal elements are foremost. What if evil grew in a place and over the decades it became larger and no one understood it or where it originated? After that you have social the elements with regard to each era and the horrifying challenges each heroine encounters that have as much to do with the times they live in, and are as much a part of the stories as the paranormal elements.
The heroine in the first novel is overcoming odds that don’t seem possible to overcome, and in the second novel I wanted to build the sense of dread that must have existed at the time when World War I was raging and the Spanish flu was decimating the world.
In the third book I drew in some of the craziness I see infecting the world in the present day and the fear I see overwhelming people. I don’t mind bringing up ignorance, bullying, prejudice and the many ways people display it. In each book I’m illustrating that every era has its challenges, and that no one era has the be all or end all on difficulties. I loved putting the characters through these challenges while I watched them fall in love.
Selena: What is your go-to snack while in deep writing mode?
Denise: Yogurt. Easy to snarf down!
Selena: Another quirk that I know about you, is that you love Halloween. I know, I know, pot calling kettle…but seriously, why do people love Halloween? I’ll have to delve into that for another blog. So tell us, what is it about this holiday that intrigues you?
Denise: It’s steeped in the pagan and the mysterious and paranormal. It has always called to me on a deep level. I’m a paranormal investigator and that time of the year seems to be an excellent time to explore the unknown. It has always been my favorite holiday, and I have so many fond memories of it. Every October I spend a ton of time watching all my favorite spooky movies and sometimes even writing a spooky story. Fall is my favorite time of the year.
Selena: What I love most about your writing is that you are always creating outside the box, especially with this trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though you know I’m not a fan of spooky things, but this wasn’t spooky or eerie at all…okay, some parts were edge of the seat worthy, but they were so well done and I was totally immersed in the romances in each book.
During your research for the Asylum trilogy, was there anything interesting that happened during the research, or something you discovered that left you speechless.
Denise: Thank you, I know it’s not your type of reading, which makes the fact that you enjoyed them that much sweeter.
Researching the past always means I’ll learn something intriguing. I love history. When I researched World War I and the Spanish flu for the second book, it surprised me how deeply affected I was by the suffering people endured in that era. It makes a lot of what most people complain about today pale in comparison. It makes me tremendously grateful for all I have and how wonderful my life really is.
Selena: If you could go back in time and have lunch with Edgar Allan Poe, what one question are you burning to ask him?
Denise: I’d ask him if he every wanted to stop writing and just chuck it all into the garbage. I love his work, and I figure he was delightfully twisted, as so many writers are. 🙂
Selena: We are twisted, but in a good crazy way that makes sense to us and to our readers.
Tell us something nobody knows about you?
Denise: This is something that a few people know about me. I’m an empath but didn’t really figure that out and accept it until about ten years ago. It’s very helpful in some ways and a pain in the ass on other days. I learn more about being an empath every day.
Selena: If you had your own talk show, which three guests would you like to have on, and why?
Denise: Oooohhhh…very good question. I’d probably interview Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Linda Howard. Dean Koontz because he’s one of my favorite writers, he’s funny, and I like how he took control of his publishing career and didn’t allow the publishing world to take control of him. Stephen King because I loved his book On Writing. Linda Howard because I’ve enjoyed many of her books, and she’s also a very funny lady.
Selena: If you could assign a soundtrack to the Asylum trilogy what would it be?
Denise: I actually have a soundtrack made up which consists of a lot of different music that fits sections of the book. All of it is scary/gloomy/creepy or romantic, depending on the individual book. I assign certain songs as “love themes” or “love scene” type music as well. I used some music from Woman In Black for example, as well as Fernando Velazquez’s Shiver soundtrack. But I also used some James Newton Howard music, When A Stranger Calls soundtrack and a whole host of other stuff.
Selena: If you could assign a soundtrack to your life, what would it be?
Denise: That’s a super hard question. It would probably be a huge soundtrack made out of 70’s, 80’s music and a ton of classical music from different eras in time. I love music from a lot of different time periods, so it would be a mixed bag. Top Gun soundtrack, Elton John music, and even disco. Hey, I’m dating myself.
Denise A. Agnew is the author of over 57 novels. Romantic Times Book Reviews calls her romantic suspense novels “top-notch,” and she’s received their coveted TOP PICK rating. Denise has written paranormal, romantic comedy, contemporary, historical, erotic romance, and romantic suspense. Archaeology and archery have crept into her work, and travels through England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales have added to a lifetime of story ideas. A paranormal investigator, Denise looks forward to exploring the unknown.
To kick off the new year, I’ve joined in the The Naughty New Year Blog Hop, courtesy of Just Romance Me. You’ll not only meet a group of talented authors and link to a string of fun blogs, but you’ll have a chance to win:
7″ Kindle Fire HD
Paperback and E-books
The blog hop has already started and goes to December 30th 7:00 EST.
By commenting on my blog, your name will be entered into a draw to win a $10.00 gift certificate.
For this blog hop, I am re-posting an interview I did with the characters in my current release, What A Girl Wants, for those of you who haven’t had a chance to meet them and ask them a question.
Even if you already met them, you can still ask Maddie and Alex anything you want, as I’m sure they’ll be only too pleased to answer your questions.
Please welcome the hero and heroine, Alex Donovan and Maddie Saunders as they sit and talk to me about their experiences in this book.
Selena:Thanks for jumping out of the book to join me today. Maddie, let’s start with you. What was your journey like in What A Girl Wants?
Maddie:The plane trip from to Hawaii was uneventful—
Alex: I have to interrupt here. Uneventful? Is that what you call it?
Maddie: Come on, Alex, even you have to admit it was classic. Besides, you laughed at the prank I pulled on you. Anyway, as for your initial question, Selena, I enjoyed the adventures you created for us, especially the humorous moments. Of course, what’s a romance without heartache, physical pain, angst and a ton of conflict?
Selena:Are you complaining about all that?
Maddie: Me? Never. I’m not a complainer, especially to my creator who has total control over my destiny. I may be a little impetuous—
Alex: A little?
Maddie: Okay, maybe more than a little. But as I told you off the pages, Alex, Selena gave me those traits. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Selena:Your turn, Alex. How would you describe was your journey in this book?
Alex: There’s no other book I’d rather have been created in, even with all the pain we both went through. Maddie’s right, the humor helped a lot, especially when it got real serious and sorrowful.
Selena:If you each had a free day and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
Maddie: You created me, Selena, what do you think? *wink* Okay, seriously, I do love my career as a travel journalist, and I’ve been to a lot of exciting locales, but coming home and staying put for a few days, sitting around in my comfy lounging pants and a certain someone’s sweatshirt I pinched from him, no make-up and hanging out with my friends, enjoying a glass of wine and chatting about our adventures is always a blast.
Alex:What Maddie said. There are some things we both agree on, that’s one of them.
Selena:Alex, what’s your philosophy on life?
Alex: Live without regrets.
Maddie: Life’s a beach and then you have sex on it. Not that I’m a nymphomaniac or anything, but, after all the angst, conflict and pain and the dysfunctional family you created for me—again, it’s not a complaint, just stating a fact—I have to rely on my sense of humor and not take everything so seriously…not like someone else I know.
Selena:What scares you?
Maddie: Needles. However, what’s really scary is when you get so anal about editing and polishing and not moving forward fast enough. It wasn’t a lot of fun when you left me in a certain position for months, I got a cramp. I am eternally grateful you finally finished the scene. Good thing I have a lot of stamina and I’m a patient gal.
Alex: You, patient? Since when?
Selena:What about you, Alex, what scares you?
Alex:Besides the fact that sometimes I can get inside Maddie’s head and figure out what she’s thinking. Reckless cruelty, corruption, hypocrisy and knowing there are kids out there who desperately need help, but the system keeps letting them down.
Maddie: I agree with Alex. I just tend to bury those things, because some of what he said has affected my life and the people I care about. All those months in draft mode, having to deal with that, until you finally yanked the story out of draft mode, stopped editing and helped me overcome my fears.
Alex: Uhm, Maddie, you’re still petrified of needles.
Maddie: Uhm, Alex, you’re still scared of assisted showers.
Alex: I wouldn’t say scared. I think we need to move on before you give away too much of the plot.
Selena:Which of your character traits is most important to you and why? Maddie, you first.
Maddie: My persistence and my quirky sense of humor. I had no choice, the way my life was written, if I didn’t find the humor in it, I’d be on a therapist’s couch for life.
Selena:What’s your biggest fault?
Maddie:My persistence and my quirky sense of humor. It did drive Alex crazy at times.
Alex: It caused me bodily injury, Maddie.
Maddie: Don’t blame me, I didn’t write the scene that way. Although, knowing me, I probably would have suggested that scene, but without the injury of course.
Selena:Alex, your turn. Which of your character traits is most important to you and why?
Maddie: Can I answer that for him?
Alex: Selena already knows what you’re going to say. That I’m uptight, suspicious—
Maddie: A perfectionist, a health food-freak—
Alex:Thanks for your help, Mads, but I can finish answering this question. My integrity, having and living by an ethical code of sound moral principles. I’m self-disciplined, as an investigative reporter this is essential, so I pride myself on my ability to remain focused, alert and possess a lot of self-control.
Maddie: Well, there is all that of course. However, as for your self control—
Alex: What’s your next question for me, Selena?
Selena:What’s your biggest fault?
Maddie:Can I please answer this one?
Alex: Not a chance, Doll. Disclaimer: for any women out there who takes offense to me calling Maddie doll, there’s a good reason why I sometimes call her that.
Maddie:There is, you can find out about it in chapter one.
Alex: To answer your question, Selena, I’d say my biggest fault is that I can sometimes be stubborn and moody.
Maddie: You think?
Selena:Tell our readers what your favorite foods are.
Maddie: Chocolate and bacon. Not together….at least I haven’t dipped any bacon in chocolate as of yet. Those two things are in a food group of their own and are guaranteed rocket ships to delectable cloud nine.
Alex: Food that won’t clog my arteries.
Selena:Alex, what do you admire most about Maddie?
Alex: Her persistence and sense of humor. She’s quirky, unique, self-reliant. She’s a strong woman who says out loud what most people think in their heads, this can be a problem, but I’ve gotten used to it over the years. I do admire how she hasn’t let what happened in her past define who she is today.
Maddie: Thank you, Alex, but I don’t say everything out loud that I’d like to say, for example, I haven’t told everybody that you can’t carry a tune and that when you—
Alex: I don’t think Selena wants you to give away so much of the plot.
Maddie: Well played, Alex.
Selena:Maddie, what do you admire most about Alex?
Maddie: He’s not perfect and he doesn’t wear a cape or leap off buildings, but he does have a lot of hero qualities that I admire. Namely; his integrity, loyalty and ethics. Even though I love to pull a lot of pranks on him, on the whole he’s showed a lot of patience. Don’t let that get to your head, Alex, I said on the whole, you did get cranky more than once. Now, about that self control he talked about—
Alex: Thanks for having us, Selena.
Maddie:Thanks, Selena. Can I make a little request before we sign off?
Maddie: Can you please hurry up with your current work in progress and not only because Alex and I make an appearance. I really do want to know what happens to the hero and heroine of that book, and of course, I’d love to wave hi to the readers who read our journey in What A Girl Wants.
Selena:I’m going as fast as I can. Now, get back into that book you two. 🙂
Maddie:Mmmm. Chapter sixteen would be a great place to tuck back into—
Alex:One track mind.
Maddie:That’s how I roll, Babe. *laughing*
Maddie:Oh, come on, that was hysterical how you earned the nickname, Babe.
Alex: Let’s get back into the book before you give away too much of the story. Thanks again, Selena and everyone.
Maddie: Ciao, Bellas, off to my book signing….(walks away with Alex, saying….”I’m getting better at different languages, aren’t I?)
Alex:Mads, they can still hear us.
Maddie: Oops, you’re right, can’t give away too much of the plot.
Re-posting this interview for the new blog followers.
This charismatic celebrity chef hates cilantro.
At seven years old, he set fire to his grandmother’s kitchen.
He explains why he reviewed his own cook book on Amazon. Bravo to him, I say.
He gives us insight into reality television.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Fabio (Top Chef Contestant) on the phone. I wish I could have taped our conversation so you could all appreciate his wit, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, infectious laughter, and warm personality all wrapped up with a delightful accent.
Here is a transcript of our conversation, (excluding all the laughter we both shared) plus a delicious easy-to-follow risotto recipe.
Selena: Fabio, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to to talk to me today. If you hear clicking, it’s because I’m typing at the same time we are chatting.
FABIO: Thank you, Selena. If you hear barking, that’s my dog. Please excuse the other noise too. My friends are here as we are making a Christmas breakfast American style. Hash browns, sausages, eggs, truffles, quiche.
Selena: You were one of my favorites on Top Chef. You were funny, easy going and your food looked scrumptious. I was disappointed when you left as I’m sure a lot of your fans were. It was a hamburger that sent you and your knives packing, have you made another hamburger since?
FABIO: Sure. I don’t know what those judges were talking about, my burger was delicious. Since that infamous hamburger episode, I have created another recipe to make the perfect Hamburger, not like the one i did on Top Chef.
(The link to the hamburger recipe is at the end of the interview.)
Selena: Do the chefs have a feeling that they will have to face the judge’s table with the possibility of being told “pack your knives and go?”
FABIO: They don’t really know. We know if our dish is good or not. The quick fire and the elimination contest on Top Chef, well, you know, it’s not what I do for a living, I didn’t freak out during the show. Now, if I had to do Dancing With the Stars, then I would freak out.
Selena: How does it feel to stand in front of the esteemed judges as they either praise or tear down your culinary creation?
FABIO: I take critique as an opinion, I don’t take it personal. If someone comes into my restaurant and says they don’t like this dish, they want it made a different way, well, I just tell them; that’s how we make this dish. It’s their opinion and they are all entitled, but I’m not going to change how a dish is made. Hey, I say, how about you don’t order it and get something else instead.
Selena: (As I said, above, it’s really too bad this wasn’t tape recorded, because in saying this, he did not have any hint of arrogance, it was all tongue in cheek and said in a warm manner. I would bet, the customers love him even when he tells them he’s not about to change anything on his menu.)
Selena: I’m Italian as well, however there are two things that are common to Italians that I absolutely do not like. One is oregano and the other is coffee. Do you have any food that you dislike?
FABIO: Not sure if you’re Italian, Selena. Cilantro. I hate Cilantro. I hate it so much that I would like to hang the person who invented it. If you don’t add enough or put one extra leaf of Cilantro it ruins your whole dish. I’m not a big fan of Peanut Butter. Otherwise, I eat pretty much eat anything.
Selena: What advice would you give someone who is going to be on a reality show?
FABIO: First piece of advice: Please, don’t cry on national television. No, don’t do it. Ever.
Keep your mouth shut and don’t say what you’re thinking out loud all the time. My filter is medium to large mesh—not a good idea sometimes. Okay, most times. Good thing they edited a lot of our disagreements, because what you saw was only a small clip of what really goes on when we disagree with a judge or a guest judge.
Being on Top Chef was a great experience. A lot of positive came out of meeting everyone on the show, networking with different people and making new friends.
Selena: Do all the contestants get along?
FABIO: Yes. They’re all good people, good chefs. We don’t hang out as we are all very busy but when they come to town we get together.
Selena: When did your love affair with cooking start?
FABIO: When I was seven years old, I set my grandma’s kitchen on fire by mistake. She said she better teach me to handle fire on the stove before I burn the whole town down. My grandmother taught me how to have a passion for food, cooking with simple ingredients.
Selena: As you know, I’m a romance author, sexy hero’s are part of the romance genre. What do you think about a hero who is a chef? Are chefs sexy?
FABIO: Well, I think I’m beautiful. My Mamma thinks I’m the best chef and the most gorgeous. But this is a tricky question. Let’s see, chefs sexy? They are passionate and that could be sexy. They make delicious food and that’s sexy.
Selena: Speaking of your Mamma, what does your family in Italy think of you being on Top Chef?
FABIO: They didn’t really understand the concept of the show. The show doesn’t air in Italy so they didn’t see it. When they visited me here I had taped some episodes and showed them. They were proud of me, you know, money, glory and as long as I’m happy in what I’m doing then they’re happy.
Selena: I got a smile at your Amazon page, where you give yourself a five star review. Good for you. Most fiction writers hesitate to even go to Amazon and look at reviews let alone give ourselves a pat on the back, which I think is admirable.
FABIO: Well did you not think my book deserved 5 stars?
Selena: Absolutely, I love your cook books. I share a lot of recipes on this blog so I know first hand how hard and challenging it is to write down the correct ingredients and instructions so that readers will find them easy to follow.
FABIO: Thank you for the compliment. See, that’s why I gave myself 5 stars. Don’t worry about what people put on Amazon, it’s an opinion and every one has one and you can’t please them all anyway.
Selena: Totally agree with you. No matter what you write in a book, it’s so subjective that it’s virtually impossible to please every single reader – or cook in your case.
So much fun talking to you, Fabio, I wish we had more time, and it’s too bad I don’t have the technology to have this conversation on audio for my readers, I think they would have enjoyed your wit and especially your infectious laugh.
FABIO’s CRANBERRY RISOTTO Recipe:
4 oz of fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tbsp of butter
4oz of diced pancetta
half onion diced till caramelized
2 handfuls of rice
4 cups of stock
1 tbsp of cranberry sauce
salt and pepper
Cook 4oz of fresh or frozen cranberry in 2 tbsp of butter with 4oz of diced pancetta and half onion diced till caramelized, sauté 2 handfuls of rice in it and add little by little about 4 cups of stock, add also 1 tbsp of cranberry sauce towards the end and a pinch of salt and pepper, top with shaved parmesan. Enjoy!
Links to Fabio’s videos, website, books, cooking classes:
This time of year is always special to me. I love autumn, and Halloween is my favorite holiday, so releasing a trilogy filled with chills, romance, and scary paranormal elements is right up my alley.
The Asylum Trilogy formed in my mind one evening as I watched a spooky program about the Trans-Alleghany Lunatic Asylum and the legend of a little girl ghost. That was the springboard for my idea, and I ran with it. As my ideas formed, I realized that one novel wouldn’t hold all I wanted to tell about the asylum.
In Asylum 1: Shadows Wait, I tell the tale of Lilly Luna, a young woman who born in the asylum and grew up there. How does she perceive and deal with the outside world?
What does love feel like to her when the superintendent’s handsome son takes notice of her?
Lilly isn’t an ordinary woman. She’s haunted by the ghost of a young girl she accidentally killed. And the ghosts of other women in the asylum who died at the hands of a serial killer also want her help. They’re dying to get it. No pun intended.
In Asylum 2: Shadows Rise, the ghosts are getting stronger, the evil is thicker. This story is set in 1918 and holds a special meaning in my heart.
Disease and war are two topics only occasionally mentioned in most romance novels. Many romance authors don’t feel it necessary to dig deep into the worst nature of the time periods for which they write their novels. This is neither good nor bad, but I’ll admit that the grit is something I want to know and write. I like getting my hands dirty.
Even before I started research into the era surrounding World War I, I wanted to start writing about the hero and heroine and the extraordinary circumstances they would have encountered going through World War I and the influenza pandemic that ravaged the world from 1917 to 1920. The more I read about these events, the more it became apparent to me that these years were horrific times. Everyone on earth was in peril in a way few generations had been before. The people who survived these events were amazing. How could I have not written a romance during this time period?
In Asylum 3: Shadows Fall, Tranquil View Asylum has been turned into condos. But you know the evil is there, still festering, still haunting any who dare entered its halls. A woman who believes in the supernatural and owns a new age shop knows there’s something awful in Tranquil View. The ex-marine who doesn’t believe in the paranormal knows something happened to his mother, but he refuses to believe the evil in the asylum had anything to do with it. As the asylum wraps them in fear, they’ll turn to a paranormal investigation team to discover what happened to his mother, and how to survive the darkness living within the building.
There you’ll discover all the information on my books, including the Asylum Trilogy. Also, be certain to sign up for my monthly newsletter on my website. I’m putting out an additional newsletter after the Asylum Trilogy is released for a reminder to all interested readers.
Comment on this blog and you could win an e-book from Denise Agnew’s back-list.