• Linda Ulleseit, author

  • NaNoWriMo!

Commas and Adjectives

Most adults are famindexiliar with the basic use of commas, but some of the rules (which go on and on and on) are less well known. Take the issue of adjectives. If you use two or more adjectives to describe something, do you put commas between them? The hard and fast rule: it depends. :)

 

Mary chose to wear the red, spotted sweater.

In this example, the sentence makes sense if I reverse the adjectives and write ‘spotted, red sweater.’ Also, the sentence works if I put an and between the adjectives and write ‘red and spotted sweater.’ In this case, a comma is needed.

Mary chose to wear Susie’s red sweater.

In this example, the two adjectives (Susie’s and red) cannot be reversed and still make sense. It also makes no sense if you put and between them. No comma.

Why is it important to know this rule? Consider the following sentences.

Tiffany is a pretty tall girl.

Tiffany is a pretty, tall girl.

In the first one, Tiffany is tall. She may or may not be pretty. In the second sentence, Tiffany is pretty and tall. Make sure you write what you mean!

 

Author-go-Round: Nina Day Gerard

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00016]This week’s Author-Go-Round interview with Nina Day Gerard may answer some of the questions you’ve always wanted to ask about romance writing…but were afraid to ask! Welcome, Nina!

Q: How did you become a romance writer?

A: I gave myself the title Accidental Romance Writer. I’ve been writing stories since I was in the third grade, and I’ve been reading romance since high school when I used to trade Harlequin novels with my girlfriends. Then in 2012 I had kind of a V8 moment when I realized “Hey, I could do this—I SHOULD do this!” and that led to my first short story The Long Road Home in the 2014 Shades of Pink Romance Anthology supporting breast cancer research, and my first novel My Brother’s Keeper.

Q: What’s the most popular question you get about being a romance author?

A: The one thing I get asked all the time is whether or not I write about the real-life experiences I’ve had in terms of the relationships or the love scenes. But it’s not classy to kiss and tell, in my opinion.

Q: But aren’t the love scenes—and in some cases the sex scenes—what people most associate with contemporary romance?

A: I would agree with that. And I’m more than happy to talk about what goes into writing those scenes from a crafting standpoint.

Q: How do you decide the heat level of your material in terms of that?

A: The easiest way to answer that is to say that I became inspired to write romance by the love stories I have enjoyed reading. I never set out to write about a certain amount of sex per se. But like any healthy adult romantic relationship, there has to be the right balance of a strong romantic and emotional bond, along with great chemistry and attraction. To me, one just makes the other better, and vice-versa. In a good love story, by the time you get to the first love scene, the reader should experience the intensity of what the two people feel for each other—that just makes the sex better. Those are the kinds of relationships I like to read about, and so that’s how I try to write.

Q: Do you ever get embarrassed when you think about people reading some of those scenes?

A: Oh my gosh, yes! Not the fans per se, these are all readers who are accustomed to the genre and probably expect a certain level of heat. But my mother, for instance, begged me for months to read the manuscript of My Brother’s Keeper. I finally relented and sent it to her. She gave me great feedback, and thankfully had the sense not to mention any of the love scenes. That went undiscussed. But now I don’t feel shy about sharing my writing with her anymore.

Q: What other romance authors have inspired you?

A: At the top of my list would be Maya Banks (KGI and Slow Burn series). She is the master at writing with that balance I was talking about. I love her characters. Same with Christine Feehan (Drake Sisters, Ghost Walker and Sisters of the Heart Series). I devoured these books as soon as they were published.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: Well, the Second Edition of My Brother’s Keeper is now available on Kindle, and Burlesque Bad, Book 1 of my Destiny of Dance series, is due out this summer.

For purchase links and trailer to My Brother’s Keeper, a preview of the Destiny of Dance series, her blog A Fine Romance, and to join Nina’s mailing list for a free exclusive edition of The Long Road Home with story Epilogue, please visit www.ninadaygerard.com. (She’ll never spam you, just periodic updates about her books!)

 

Author-Go-Round: Connie Peck

coverConnie is the author of some of my very favorite horse books for Young Adults. Welcome, Connie!

Thank you for inviting me to your blog. I’m Connie Peck and the stories I write are loosely based on a pony I owned when I was young. Do horses really talk? Can a rider actually understand the thoughts of a horse? You betcha! Every animal communicates. They signal danger and good food, play and even anger or irritation. They even communicate with other species. How do you know what they are saying? By watching and listening. You know what your dog or cat is thinking – at least most of the time, and they seem to know what you’re going to say even before you say it.

I always know what my horse is thinking by the tilt of his ears or the angle of his head. His eye changes ever so slightly to tell me different things, and when his muscles tighten, I know what he’s thinking about doinghorse. And my horse understands me in the very same way. Of course we speak verbally as well. I know his whinny when he wants food, or just wants company, and he knows when I call him or whistle that it’s time to go for a ride – or get a snack.

I learned all this from my pony, Midnight, when I was only eleven years old. That pony actually considered himself to be the trainer of our partnership.

A while back I visited a fourth grade class and we discussed writing books. They couldn’t wait to ask me all sorts of questions. Here are some of my favorites.

  1. How did you make up so many stories?

I write about things I that happened to me, or things I would like to happen. Sometimes I daydream and pretend I’m someone else and make up things to do. When you start by writing about things in your own life, your imagination starts to grow. Then making up new stories gets easier.

  1. Do you ever get tired when you are writing a book?

While I’m writing a real good part of the book and I’m so into it that I lose track of time, I can sit at my desk for hours and not even know it. I’m not a bit tired or hungry or thirsty even. But when I do stop to think about something I just wrote, or I have to stop and think about what’s going to happen next, I might lean back in my chair, and then I think I broke myself in half! I try to stand up and stretch my legs and I’m so stiff I can hardly move. But I didn’t think I was getting tired at all when I was ‘In the Zone’.

  1. Are you famous?

It depends on what you mean by famous?

“Like on TV where everyone knows you.”

Well, my children know me, and my grandchildren know me pretty well. And my mom, all my brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews know me, as well as all my aunts and uncles and cousins. And now you know me. So I guess that makes me sort of famous. Besides, I had an interview on a radio station one time.

“Wow, you are famous!”

  1. Are you a millionaire? ‘Cause everyone who writes a book must be rich.

(I tried not to giggle) If you mean really rich, I can say I’m the richest person I know because of my family and friends, and because I live in America where I can choose my own life. But if you want to know if I have enough money to pay my bills, not yet. In fact, none of the authors I know are rich. (They were really surprised and a little disappointed)

  1. I’m afraid of horses and I don’t really like them, but I like cats. Can you write a book about cats?

I write what I know and love and that’s mostly horses. I don’t know a lot about cats, but I have a couple of cats and they can be funny. You can write a great book about cats if you start writing about what your cat does. You can even make up an adventure for you and your kitty. Maybe someday you will be famous. (That got them excited)

I started my latest book, Belt Buckles and Tiaras, not long after this classroom visit. It is a new line in The Black Pony adventures. Annie and Midnight first met Savannah in the first book when they went to the playday. Annie got to know Savannah a little better in the second book, Midnight and the Racehorse. But Savannah wanted to share her own story and tell how Annie helped her out, just by being a friend.

Sixteen year old Savannah Conway has it all, wealth, beauty, and the finest horses on a ranch in Phoenix. But what is the cost? Her movie-star mother has plans to see her winning every beauty pageant she can find. Right up to Miss America.

When her own dreams of training and showing horses clash with her mother’s plans, Savannah feels betrayed, trapped in a life mapped out for her since birth. But when she meets Annie Beck, a plain girl with an exceptional black pony, doors to another way of life begin to open. A life filled with real friends and freedom of choice.

Can Savannah break her mother’s heart and shatter their dreams for a shot at the title of Miss America just for a fling in the country? Is a compromise possible so she can meet Annie’s friends – and James, who rides the golden dun?

You can find BELT BUCKLES AND TIARAS on Amazon (http://tinyurl.com/nwkpw2v) and the rest of my books on my Author Page 

Please visit me at http://conniepeck.wordpress.com and check out Midnight’s blog, too.

And don’t forget to visit these fabulous authors, also on this tour. Write a comment on something you find interesting.

Feb 8 Nina Day Gerard www.ninadaygerard.com

Feb 15, Miracle Austin www.miracleaustin.com

Eve Connelly. Website www.eveconnelly.wordpress.com

Tracy Lawson. Website www.tracylawsonbooks.com

Linda Ulleseit, Flying Horse books and more, website: www.ulleseit.wordpress.com

Author-go-Round: Me!

 

Ellen001IMG_0447Welcome to the third week of AUTHOR-GO-ROUND! This week it’s my turn.

My grandmother’s grandmother, Ellen VanValkenburgh, fascinated me from a young age. She left a tremendous legacy of strength for the women of my family, and she inspired my novel, Under the Almond Trees. On the left is a photograph taken sometime around the turn of the last century. I’m on the right, 100 years later, wearing the same brooch. Ellen died before my father was born, but here is how I imagine an interview with her might go.

Linda Ulleseit (me): Thank you for speaking with me, Grandma Van.

Ellen VanValkenburgh: What would you like to talk about today?

Me: I’ve always admired the story of you running your husband’s paper mill after he passed away. Was that hard emotionally? I mean was he the love of your life?

Ellen: (laughing) Such a modern idea! In my day we didn’t moon over our men. I did what I had to do to feed my family. I had two daughters then, you know, and a son on the way.

Me: Henry VanValkenburgh was your second marriage, though.

Ellen: That’s true. He was the father of my children, but Jacob… Jacob was my heart.

Me: The love of your life.

Ellen:If you insist. But we only had a short time together.

Me: Yes, true. Can we talk about your time in Santa Cruz? Did running the paper mill make you want to be in politics?

Ellen: Oh, I never wanted to be in politics, but when I tangled with the city over business matters it seemed foolish that women had no part in making decisions about how their city was run. Women couldn’t vote then, you know.

Me: Oh, I know. You fought hard for women to vote. I’m very proud of you for that. You even met Susan B. Anthony, is that right?

Ellen: (nodding) What an earnest face and genial smile she had!. Susan came to Santa Cruz at the request of her brother Elihu, a prominent man in Santa Cruz.

Me: And she inspired you to sue the county?

Ellen: Among others. But yes, I did sue in 1862. The law, after all, said a person born in these United States was a citizen and eligible to vote. Disappointing to learn that the law applied to Negroes but not women.

Me: But you persevered.

Ellen: Didn’t succeed until 1920. I was old by then.

Me: What a tremendous legacy to leave your children, though. What an inspiring life you’ve led.

Ellen: Well, I didn’t intend to be either a legacy or inspiring. I only wanted some say in how my city, and country, was run.

Me: Still, your niece by marriage and your granddaughter hold you in high esteem. As do I.UAT front

Ellen: That’s nice. Neither Nina or Eva were trying to be inspirational either. They just decided what they wanted and stuck to their guns until they got it.

Me: That’s admirable.

Ellen: Well, all right. I guess that’s so. (smiling) Share my story then with whomever you will. I hope they enjoy reading it.

Me: Thank you, Grandma Van. I’m sure they will.

Under the Almond Trees is available on Amazon here.

Also please visit these awesome AUTHOR-GO-ROUND authors:

Tracy Lawson www.tracylawsonbooks.com

Nina Day Gerard, www.ninadaygerard.com

Miracle Austin, www.miracleaustin.com

Connie Peck, conniepeck.wordpress.com

 

 

Author-go-Round: Tracy Lawson

003(48)Hi! I’m Tracy Lawson, and I’m so excited to be featured on Week 2 of this Author Interview-go-Round! I’m the author of Counteract and Resist, the first two volumes of the YA dystopian Resistance Series. Ignite, the third book in the series, is slated for release in summer 2016!

Here’s a quick summary of the series so far:

The Resistance Series takes place in a near-future version of the United States. The powerful Office of Civilian Safety and Defense has enacted a long list of Civilian Restrictions designed to keep the people safe from frequent terrorist attacks, but it hasn’t worked: as the story opens, the threat of a chemical weapons attack is literally hanging over everyone’s heads.

Careen takes the OCSD’s offered antidote, but the side effects cause her to hallucinate. Her erratic behavior attracts the attention of a young law enforcement officer, who mistakenly pegs her as a dissident. Careen doesn’t realize the antidote is causing her confusion…until she runs out on the day of the anticipated attack.

Tommy, recuperating from injuries sustained in a recent auto accident, is unaware that there’s a link between that accident, which killed his parents, and the chemical weapons attack that threatens him now. When he discovers that working out before he takes his dose of the antidote helps him feel more like himself, he defies the rules to regain his strength and his sanity. On the day of the attack, he meets Careen, who just might be the girl of his dreams, and tries to save her by sharing his last dose of the antidote, even though doing so could potentially hasten his own death.

What Careen and Tommy learn about the true nature of the terrorist threat spurs them to take action; their decisions lead them to run afoul of local law enforcement, team up with an underground resistance group, and ultimately take their quest for the truth to the highest reaches of the United States government.003(35) copy

In Resist, the second volume in the Resistance Series, Tommy and Careen are no longer naïve, frightened teenagers who believe the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense can protect them from terrorist attacks. They’ve discovered the OCSD’s miracle antidote’s true purpose: to create a population bereft of free will, incapable of defying the tyrannical OCSD. They join the Resistance, but on their first mission, things spin out of control and soon they’re on the run, dodging the quadrant marshals in a headlong dash for the Resistance’s secret headquarters.

Being part of the Resistance presents them with new challenges. Not everyone working for change will prove trustworthy, and plans to spark revolution go awry with consequences greater than they could’ve imagined. Tommy and Careen’s relationship is tested when their philosophical differences and the pressures of interpersonal rivalries and jealousy put a strain on their romance. Can they make time for each other while trying to start a revolution?

I love to talk to readers, and I’ve answered some interesting questions at book festivals and school visits. I’d like to share some of them with you:

How did you get the idea for your books? This question can be answered with a question. I was mentoring a friend of my daughter’s when the initial idea for Counteract came about. Chase is a pretty sharp guy and an excellent writer—and when he was in high school I had a lot of fun working with him and editing some of his short stories. We had finished working on a story about baseball, a broken nose, and a broken heart, and were ready to start something new, when he suggested we write scenes in response to the prompt: “What if everyone was on LSD and all thoughts were communal?” It was certainly thought provoking! Chase created the characters Tommy and Eduardo, I created Careen. Right away, we knew we were onto something. The story morphed and changed a lot before it became the finished version of Counteract—but that was how it all began.

What kind of research did you do while writing Counteract? A high school student asked me this question when I visited her English class, and I have to admit I totally fell for it. I responded, “Oh, I did lots of research.” Several people in the class looked surprised, and a few began to giggle. It took a second before I realized they’d asked if I’d tripped on LSD as part of my research, so I quickly qualified my answer. “I totally Googled LSD!” Actually, my browser history might look pretty odd to anyone who didn’t know I was researching a book about a society paralyzed by the fear of terrorism and an oppressive government. I’ve Googled guns, explosives, detonator cord, terrorist attacks, torture methods, and even a floor plan of the Capitol building. Don’t call the NSA on me, okay?

Did you get your ideas from another series? Is this story going to turn into another love triangle like Team Edward and Team Jacob in the Twilight series? When I was writing Counteract, and then Resist, I made every effort to craft a story that was different from the other popular teen books, like Hunger Games, Divergent, and Twilight. I even avoided reading The Hunger Games until I was finished writing Counteract so I wouldn’t be influenced. Love triangles are great devices in fiction, and Careen, my heroine, does attract the attention of two different guys, but it’s not the main focus of the story, and it does have a twist you won’t find in Twilight.

At almost every school visit, someone will ask how I chose the color orange for the CSD antidote in my book. One student noted that CSD is the same color as hallucination-causing drug that was used on Tris in the Divergent series.

At first, I’d envisioned the antidote as red, but when I saw the red liquid in the glass vial, I thought, ‘oh, no—everyone will think it’s vampire blood. This isn’t a vampire story.’ What other color could I choose? I eliminated blue, green, and purple, because cool colors are happy colors. I couldn’t use yellow (that’s when I pause until someone in the class starts to laugh) because it looks like pee. So that left orange, and that worked, because orange means caution and danger. I’d bet Veronica Roth arrived at her orange antidote using a similar process of elimination!

In the first chapter, you say something about Tommy being in an accident. I want to know more. Why didn’t you tell about the accident? This has to be one of the most amazing questions I’ve ever had, because it came from a very bright eight-year-old! My books are geared for ages 12 and up, and I don’t usually get questions from elementary-school children, but Bennett, who is the son of longtime friends, had been reading his older brother’s copy of Counteract before school that morning I visited his combined class of fourth through eighth graders.

I explained, “Bennett, you and I have known each other your whole life. But if we’d just met, and I said, ‘Hi, I’m Tracy Lawson, and I’ve come to speak to your school today. Back when I was born in Cincinnati in nineteen sixty something…’ you’d get bored and tune me out. I shouldn’t try to tell you my whole life story at once. Same with Tommy. I need you to get interested in him, and his immediate situation, before I tell you his backstory. What chapter are you on right now?” Bennett replied he’d just started Chapter 3. “Okay—you’re just about to learn about the accident that killed his parents and put him in the hospital.”

Counteract and Resist are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s online store in both print and ebook editions.

Amazon buy links:

Counteract: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013ZBPH7Q

Resist: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013Z7URKM

Barnes & Noble:

Counteract: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/counteract-tracy-lawson/1120081568?ean=9780996610803

Resist: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/resist-tracy-lawson/1122581420?ean=9780996610827

Signed copies are available through Tracy’s website at http://counteractbook.com/lawson-publishing/

The audio book version of Counteract is nearing completion—so look for its release in February!

Want more behind the scenes info and updates about the Resistance Series?

Follow Tracy on

Twitter: @TracySLawson

Facebook: http://facebook.com/TracyLawsonAuthor

Also please visit these awesome authors: 

Eve Connelly, http://www.eveconnelly.wordpress.com

Nina Day Gerard, www.ninadaygerard.com

Miracle Austin, www.miracleaustin.com

Connie Peck, conniepeck.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Author-Interview-go-round!

coverHi, I’m Eve Connelly. I’m honored to be a part of this Author Interview-go-round and I’m pleased to be a guest on Linda Ulleseit’s blog.

I’ve answered some hilarious questions in my book signings and at my first book reading at our local library. Here are my favorite. I hope this gives a little insight to the real me and what I love to do.

  1. What prompted you to start writing? (from the librarian)

I don’t remember a day when I didn’t have books. My mom read Little Golden books to me every day and by age four, I was “reading’ those books to my dolls and stuffed animals. When I grew bored of reading the same books, I began telling my own stories.

My father first say my potential when I was eleven years old and insisted I sit and write an hour a day. Not in a journal, but write a story. He would select a few of my stories and help me polish them up a bit, then send them to a magazine. From there I knew I wanted to write. It just took another forty years to get it right.

  1. Did you take classes to learn how to write? (from a lady sitting near the front)

No, I didn’t take formal classes. I did take journalism and technical writing in high school, but quickly discovered I had no stomach for poking into other people’s lives without permission. Later I studied to become a teacher in science and reading, but my biggest boost was joining the online critique group The Next Big Writer. I’ve also attended scads of workshops and conferences.

  1. Is romance the only thing you write? How about thrillers or murder mysteries? (from a lady in a middle row)

I mostly write what I love, and that’s horse stories. I am passionate about Hallmark movies and I search out the books which inspired them. After the first book I read, I was hooked for life. More than standard romance, I love the deeper meanings and heartfelt journeys portrayed in Women’s literature. I like to think that’s what I write best. As to thrillers and mysteries – I can’t solve a simple puzzle and I usually get lost in the first pages of a mystery. And most thrillers keep me up at night, and not in a good way.

(but on a side note, I’m eager to see what fellow Author-go-round member, Miracle Austin writes)

  1. If you write romance, you must write about men also. What makes you think you can write what a man thinks or feels?) From a slightly grumpy older man in the back.

I didn’t dare tell him that of course I can write a man, I’m married to one, and I raised one, and hey, I’m a woman and we can see right through you. No I didn’t say that. Here’s my answer:

I’m an avid outdoorsman, hunter, fisher, and horse trainer. I’ve ridden my own Harley with a club, and I fly airplanes. I grew up on an airport with firebombers, smoke jumpers, and airplane mechanics. When I wasn’t at the airport, I was at the rodeo. I got a pretty good insight to men back then. Furthermore, I’ve been called ‘sir’ so many times I must play the part pretty well, so I also draw from that. However, my husband and children will vouch for me – I’m all woman.

 

My first novel, Big Hearts, is the story of one woman’s journey from loss to love. Kimber Blackwell has just about everything a young woman could dream of, then in a freak accident on her farm involving snow mobiles and her prized team of working Belgian horses, she loses the baby she’s carrying along with her husband, Tim.

Things go from bad to catastrophic when a crooked lawyer teams up with the parents of the children who were also in the horse drawn sleigh and Kimber is faced with a lawsuit. In the end, she loses everything. Her family farm, heirlooms passed down for six generations all the way from Europe, and her horses. Her only recourse seems to be her last two bottles of pain pills and sleeping pills. “I’m coming Tim.”

But her friends have finally located a pair of her horses and return them to her. Now she must learn to trust, not just herself, but her horses, and she must learn to trust others. Can the love of a horse heal a broken heart?

Big Hearts can be found on Amazon and Kindle, or you can order a signed copy from the author at www.eveconnelly.wordpress.com or direct email at eveconnellyauthor@gmail.com . Follow Eve on Twitter @Eve_Connelly57

Never doubt the judgement of a good horse.

Next week watch for Author interview with Tracy Lawson, www.tracylawsonbooks.com

Also please visit these awesome authors: Linda Ulleseit, www.ulleseit.wordpress.com

Nina Day Gerard, www.ninadaygerard.com

Miracle Austin, www.miracleaustin.com

Connie Peck, conniepeck.wordpress.com

Neverwhere Book Review

neverNeverwhere, by Neil Gaiman, is a young adult magical realism novel. The main character, Richard Mayhew, struggles with his job and overbearing fiancee–who symbolizes parents/authority. He stops to help an injured girl, Door, and is plunged into a fantasy world underneath London. He follows Door on a quest to discover who killed her family. He meets mythical creatures and has supernatural experiences. The entire time he is trapped in London Below, Richard longs for his old life. When he is finally returned to London Above, he finds he has changed. In the end, he is given a way back to Below.

This novel is a classic coming of age young adult book. It is also an excellent example of magical realism. The definition of magical realism states that the story must have a blurred line between realism and the supernatural that is part of daily life. It also must have shifts in time and space, as well as a journey that uncovers a different truth about the world.

While in London Below, Richard encounters much magic. He meets Rat Speakers and attends Floating Markets that move locations every night. He is new to a world where residents interact with the supernatural every day. Occasionally he visits London Above while he is with Door, and the world never looks as he remembers it. It is eerily empty, or some structure is missing. Door herself is practically London Below royalty. She has inherited the power to open a gateway, or door, to anywhere she wants to go. Door symbolizes the pathway for Richard to adulthood.

When Richard first sees Door, bleeding on the street, he stops to help her. The next day, he is invisible. He loses his job and watches as his apartment is rented out to new people as if he never existed. This symbolizes the adolescent stage of life when a young person wants to be an adult but is not yet treated as one. On the quest to locate the angel Islington, Door and Richard go to the British Museum in London Above. They locate the Angelus, and Door opens a gateway to Islington’s underground home. Near the end, when Richard is returned to London Above, his life is waiting for him as if he never left.

During the quest, Richard must participate in a test of character. Door and her bodyguard, Hunter, have already won tests of intellect and strength. Richard’s ordeal greatly changes him, causing him to lose most of his self-doubts; he is now confident enough to interact with other beings of London Below. When he returns to London Above, he finds that his experiences have changed him so much that his job and friends mean little to him–he has become an adult and left them in childhood.

Although Richard is an adult by age in this book, unusual for Young Adult novels, his experience is one that clearly resonates with the readers in this age group. This novel is a good example of magical realism as opposed to fantasy. All the magical elements include a shift in time or space, or have some symbolism relevant to Richard’s awakening adulthood.

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