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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Last minute packing!

Yes, I leave tomorrow and I'm running around like a crazy woman trying to get everything done and pack as well.  It's hard packing for 3 weeks - warning to my readers in Australia and New Zealand I'm only bringing like 4 nice outfits, so I'll be wearing the same clothes in all the pictures!  And I'm counting on the hotels to provide laundry service - otherwise I might be a bit...aromatic ;>  But I refuse to drag a huge suitcase around with me.

I hope to post pics to my blog and Facebook while I'm on the road - no guarantees - it will depend on wi-fi accessibility and how energetic I am :)  I won't be able to access my website email - so if you want to contact me, just post a comment on my facebook page or here if you're one of the five people who don't have a facebook page ;>

For my Auckland readers - I might have a signing at the Dymocks in Auckland on Sunday evening 21 August - I'll post here if I get more details - and/or I'll post on my Facebook pages.

Last thing - Congrats to Jessica!!  She was the lucky winner of the copy of Heart of Iron

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Heart of Iron Interview + Give Away!

Time for another author interview :)  This time, I'm happy to introduce Ekaterina Sedia, whose latest novel, Heart of Iron has just been released.  The name might be familiar to my loyal readers because I've short stories in two of Ekaterina's anthologies, Running with the Pack and Bewere the Night

As with most of my interviews, I'm offering a free copy of Heart of Iron to a random commenter.  Please let a comment and your email addy by noon EDT on Saturday, July 30th to be entered to win (I know this is shorter than normal, but I'm leaving on the 31st).  Open to international readers as well :)

Here's the blurb:  In a Russia where the Decembrists' rebellion was successful and the Trans-Siberian railroad was completed before 1854, Sasha Trubetskaya wants nothing more than to have a decent debut ball in St. Petersburg. But her aunt's feud with the emperor lands Sasha at university, where she becomes one of its first female students - an experiment, she suspects, designed more to prove female unsuitability for such pursuits than offer them education. The pressure intensifies when Sasha's only friends - Chinese students - start disappearing, and she begins to realize that her new British companion, Jack, has bigger secrets than she can imagine! Sasha and Jack find themselves trying to stop a war brewing between the three empires. The only place they can turn to for help is the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace, newly founded by the Taiping rebels. Pursued by the terrifying Dame Florence Nightingale of the British Secret Service, Sasha and Jack escape across Siberia via train to China. Sasha discovers that Jack is not quite the person she thought he was...but then again, neither is she.

And now let's Take 10 with Ekaterina Sedia:

1.) Why this book? What made you want to write this story?

Like with any book, there are many possible answers. But basically, I wanted to write an alternate history that wasn't about the US or Western Europe. Crimean War seemed like a natural subject, since what's accessible to Anglophone readers is the British take on it and I felt that the story taking place in Russia would offer a different perspective. And I also wanted a book where Russia explicitly made alliances with Asia, and since in this timeline the Trans-Siberian railroad is completed by 1853, it seemed a shame to not bring the Taipings into it.

2.) Which authors inspire you? Has that changed over time?

I enjoy Dina Rubina a lot, as well as Viktor Pelevin (there are parts of the book which are explicit homages to his Chapaev i Pustota.) I'm also a fan of Dickens and Austen, Nalo Hopkinson, Octavia Butler, James Tiptree Jr., and a whole bunch of other writers. Tastes always change over time, of course – when I was very young, I loved James Fenimore Cooper. Look, I was nine, I didn't know any better.

3.) Why fantasy? Is there something special about fantasy that draws you to write in the field?

All fiction, I think, is about human condition. Fantasy allows you to put regular people into crazy, impossible circumstances and see how far you can push them. So yes, for me fantasy allows exploration of certain aspects better than mimetic fiction.

4.) What do you find most interesting about Sasha Trubetskaya and Jack?

Sasha is very much a regular person. It seems that lately in order to be considered a strong heroine, a woman has to be a total badass – sassy, sexy, kick-ass weapons expert and investigator. Not that it's a problem per se – I just don't think it should be a requirement. So Sasha cannot fight, really, she is not savvy or sassy. What she does have is determination, good role models, and a sense or right and wrong. She also embarrasses easily.

Jack, on the other hand, is everything she is not – he is basically a Victorian superhero. Also, a bit of a criminal, but not without some charm.

5.) What else do you enjoy doing besides writing? Interests? Hobbies?

My full-time job as a college professor. I also edit anthologies, write an occasional fashion blog entry, and am very much into fitness. Kettlebells are my main obsession at the moment.

6.) Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you learn that you didn't know before?

Oh, tons. I'm well familiar with Russian history, but my knowledge of Taiping Rebellion and Opium Wars was somewhat limited. On my website (http://ekaterinasedia.com/index.php/novels/heart-of-iron/), I have a currently under construction bibliography, but Spence's God's Chinese Son and Walley's Opium War Through Chinese Eyes were absolutely invaluable. Also, on the same page I'm linking to a series of blog posts I wrote about history involved with the book. Check it out – all good stuff!

7.) How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself growing up to be? Or did it take you by surprise?

Oh, never even considered being a writer, although I was always an avid reader. In my mid-thirties, it occurred to me that maybe I have something to say, and so I started to write. I still don't quite think about myself as a proper writer.

8.) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?

I usually write before bed, to unwind from the day. So one-two hours a day when I'm working on a project. Since I also work on anthologies, sometimes this time is taken up by editing work. I try to write every day, but don't really sweat it if I can't. I don't want it to be something I have to do; I want it to be my downtime, something I do for myself because I want to.

9.) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write? A favorite?

I do have a very small office; I mean, the floor area is small, but it has a ridiculously high ceiling and a skylight. And usually a cat or two plopped on the desk.

10.) What are you writing now? What's coming out next?

Right now, I'm working on a short story – I have several of those due for various anthologies. Then I have my next anthology to work on – Bloody Fabulous, which is a collection of urban fantasy stories centered around fashion (you're writing one, right?). Next year I have a short story collection coming out, and Jeffrey Ford was kind enough to write an amazing introduction for it. After it – more anthologies, and more work on the novel I started a while back (a ghost story featuring Chinese-American actors in 1930's Hollywood.) My plate is full, but I'm very excited about all of these projects!

[Yes, I've a fun idea from a fashion photographer's POV!]

Thanks so much for answering my questions!  Below are some links for those who are interested:

Website: http://ekaterinasedia.com
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Iron-Ekaterina-Sedia/dp/160701257X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1311797718&sr=8-1
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/esedia

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Australia/New Zealand Schedule

Just wanted to post my schedule for my Australia/New Zealand trip.  I'm leaving in a WEEK and I'm an utter mess! I've so much to do that I've been just staring at my computer frozen not knowing where to start.  My husband wants me to write up a list of dinners and how to cook them, I need to get handouts pulled together for various workshops and presentations I'm doing down under, I have to pack, I have to figure out how to Skype and install a webcam on one of our home computers, AND my editor just sent final edits for Touch of Power and needs any changes by Friday.  *Deep breath*  Well, at least once I get on the airplane, I shouldn't have trouble sleeping because I'll be exhausted ;>

As for my schedule - I'm hoping to extend my time in Brisbane and I hope there will be a public event in Auckland, New Zealand besides the RWNZ conference.  I'm a bit frustrated as I'm the type of person who would have all this scheduled and confirmed months ago, but I'm not in charge :)  My husband tells me to relax - good advice that's easier said than done!

And so, here's the schedule (check my website (http://www.mariavsnyder.com/AUS.php) for links to the events and also check it this week for any last minute additions/changes as I'm sure there will be some):

August 5-7, 2011 Attending & Participating in Byron Bay Writers' Festival. (Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia) All weekend.

August 8, 2011 Book Signing & Talk at Dymocks. (Shop D17, 177 Albert Street (Corner Elizabeth & Albert), Brisbane, 4000 Australia, phone: (07) 3007 2800) 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (I'm hoping to extend the time - check my website this week for more details!)

August 9, 2011 Book Signing at Readings. (701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria, 3122, Australia, phone: (03) 9819 1917) 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The event is FREE, but you need to call and make a reservation before the event. Here's the RSVP # 9819 1917.

August 10, 2011 Author Event & Book Signing at Wyndham Library - Plaza Branch and in conjunction with Collins Booksellers. (Corner of Derrimut and Heaths Roads, Werribee, Victoria, 3030, Australia, phone: (03) 9748 9333) 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

August 11, 2011 Book Signing at Target in Melbourne. (236 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000 Australia) 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

August 11, 2011 Informal Talk & Book Signing at Rendezvous - The Romance Bookstore. (359 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000, Australia, phone: 1800 333 113) 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

August 15, 2011 Book Signing at Kinokuniya Bookshop. (Level 2, The Galleries, 500 George Street, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000, Australia, phone: (02) 9262 7996) 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

August 16, 2011 Book Signing at Dymocks. (350 George Street, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000 Australia, phone: (02) 9223 5974) 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

August 17, 2011 Informal Book Signing at Galaxy Bookshop. (Level 1, 131 York Street, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000, Australia, phone: (02) 9298 3110) 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

August 17, 2011 Author Event at Ultimo Library. (38-40 William Henry Street, Ultimo New South Wales, 2007, Australia, phone: (02) 9298 3110) 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Books will be available for sale.

August 19-21, 2011 Attending & Participating in Romance Writers of New Zealand's Annual Conference. (Crowne Plaza Hotel, 128 Albert Street, Auckland, New Zealand) All weekend.



Monday, July 18, 2011

Shadow's Lure Interview + Contest!

As promised, here is the first of a couple author interviews and give aways that I've been hoarding :) 

Jon Sprunk is a friend of mine.  He sent me his debut fantasy novel, Shadow's Son a couple years ago, hoping I'd give him a quote for his book. I really loved the story and was happy to provide a quote.  I interviewed him on my Goodread's blog when Shadow's Son came out last year.  Here's a link: http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/467137-interview-contest

The second book in the series, Shadow's Lure was recently released and Jon agreed to do another interview with me.  To be entered to win a copy of Jon's book (your choice of the first or second), please leave a comment and your email address by midnight July 24th.  This is open to international readers as well :)

Here's the cover copy for Shadow's LureIn Othir, he was at the top of the food chain—an assassin beyond compare, a dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again.

Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents, Caim discovers a land in thrall to the Shadow. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, he becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight.

But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some fights from which he can't run. In this battle, all of Caim's strength and skill won't be enough.
For none can resist the Shadow's Lure.


Take 10 More with Jon Sprunk:

1) Tell us a little about Shadow’s Lure. Do we learn more about Caim and Josephine from the first book, Shadow’s Son?

Yes, they both return in the sequel. We get a deeper into Caim’s psyche and his equally-murky past. Josey has a lot of troubles, too, not the least of which is trying to rule an unruly empire. And there’s more of Kit in the second book as she becomes a more pivotal part of Caim’s life.

2) Shadow’s Lure harder to write or easier?

A little of both. Easier in the sense that many of the main characters were coming along for the ride, so I felt comfortable writing about them. Harder in that this was my first attempt at a sequel. There was a lot in the planning and plot arcing (running into book 3) that I had to figure out as I went along.

3) What advice would you give to an aspiring author interested in writing a series?

I think a connected series (where the books are tied together in plot) needs more planning than a stand-alone, if only because you need to have an idea where you’re going beyond the first book. That being said, don’t be afraid to toss those plans out the window if better ideas occur to you during the writing.

4) You’ve been a published author for a year. Is it what you excepted?

Not at all. At first, I had the silly expectation that all my dreams would come true overnight. Then reality set in. I would have been crushed if I wasn’t so focused on improving my stories and style with each book.

5) What has been your favorite aspect of being published?

Besides the private island in the Caribbean? (cue hysterical laughter) Meeting my readers. Making connections with fans keeps me grounded, and it reminds me who I’m writing for.

6) What is your least favorite part of being published?

There’s some pressure. Writing is my profession now, and I want to be successful. But it’s a good pressure. For me, there has been no real negative.

7) You have a short story, Sea of Madness in the anthology, Sails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy, do you have any more short stories published? Do you enjoy writing short, or is novels your favorite?

There’s a list of my published short stories on my website (
http://www.jonsprunk.com). As you can see, I write very few of them. From very early in my creative life, I wanted to be a novelist. There is something about a novel, the scope and sweep of it, that drives my inner muse.  That’s not to say I won’t write a short, or even a novella, if a good idea strikes me.

8) I see you have a number of book signings and convention appearances this summer and fall. Do you enjoy promoting your books or would you rather be writing? Which do you feel spreads the word about your books better – a convention or book signing?

I love the experience of showing people my work and winning them over. And hearing back from a fan you met at a con or signing—about how much they loved the book—that is the best stuff on Earth. But when I attend conventions, some part of my brain is counting up the hours of writing I’m not getting done. So it’s a balance. I think book signings are more effective per hour of time spent, but overall conventions expose me to more people. But they cost money out of my pocket. Again, I’m trying to find the right balance.

9) You’ve been talking trash about how your assassin Caim can beat Valek in a fight ;> Caim has shadow magic, but Valek’s immune to magic. So how do you think a fight between the two would go down?

Caim doesn’t need his powers to beat Valek; he’s the superior fighter. And his powers, as we’ll see in Shadow’s Lure, give him superhuman quickness, stealth, and the ability to cross distances instantaneously.

But, if Valek could entice him into a poison-guessing game like in The Princess Bride, I foresee bad things for Caim. :( 


[I strongly disagree on Caim being the superior fighter!]

10) What’s next? Are you working on Book 3 in the Shadow Saga? Is it the final novel or do you have more planned?

Right now I’m revising Book 3, Shadow’s Master, which wraps up the series. (Although I never say never.) After that, I have plans for a totally new series, a heroic/epic fantasy involving mad wizards and genocidal god-kings.

Ohhhh.... sounds good!

Thanks, Jon for answering my questions. 

Links:
Jon's website:  http://www.jonsprunk.com
Amazon link to his books:
Shadow's Son: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Son-Jon-Sprunk/dp/1616142014/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b
Shadow's Lure: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1616143711/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_r=1N44FSM5HYBVR34ZX7K8&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938811&pf_rd_i=507846






Monday, July 11, 2011

Caught up with my emails!

Hooray!!  Early this morning I responded to all my emails  (except the ones regarding the contests - my sister-in-law is doing them for me - she's super organized - but I still sign the books and labels).  Of course a bunch of replies rolled in while I was sleeping, so I'm not longer "caught up" but I was for a few hours at least :)  One reason is I'm not getting as many emails as before (not complaining!), and I think it's becasue of Facebook - I get many comments on my author page and regular page, and they're quick to answer.  Plus I don't have a new release out, which always generates lots of emails (again - not complaining!).

Am I the only author who responds to their emails?  Just curious.  I think it's very important and do dedicate much time to it - which is why I'm so bad about blogging.

In the process of cleaning out my inbox, I encountered a few gems.  I have an author interview with Jon Sprunk to post with a contest/giveaway. I will do that this week -so stay tuned.  And, of course links to two interviews.  I'll post them below.

I also cleaned out my office - it was a mess.  And I need to start writing book 2 of the healer series, SCENT OF MAGIC and, for some reason (uh...procrastination?) I need to have a clean desk and office floor (the piles of books are put away!).  So now I'm all set to start :)   Oh and in the process of cleaning out, I have put together a pile of books to give away to my blog readers - so stay tuned for a couple contests :)

Linkage:
Interview: http://www.ezread.com/meet.asp?id=49
This Interview will be posted July 13th: http://www.riverinaromantics.blogspot.com