Monday, June 20, 2011

Author Interview with Sherri A. Dub

Today my guest is Paranormal Romance Author, Sherri A. Dub.


I love social media.  As many of you already know, I am an avid “tweeter.”  I enjoy sharing good stuff and meeting good people. 

Author Sherri A. Dub is just one of the good people I’ve met on twitter.  We connected over a tweet and she agreed to an interview with Page Readers. 

PR:  Sherri, tell us a little about you:

I was born and raised in California for 21 years.  I had my son when I was 21 and moved to Haines, Alaska with him as a single mother when he was 3 months old.  It wasn't alone, though, my whole family relocated there.  I have two sisters and two brothers.  I am the second child, and my parents have been married for 45 years.

In Alaska, I did a variety of jobs:  Commerical Fishing, Bartending, Dental Assistant and Archaeologist.
           
In 1995, I married my fantastic husband and my life really became an adventure.

I went to UAA and received my AA degree and a BA of Anthropology.  I worked at KPC in the collections department for my Anthropology instructor for 4 years, and spent 6 weeks in the field along the Kenai River studying the Dena'ina Indians and excavating Pre-historical sites.  During my 4 years in college, I also wrote for the university newspaper.

I joined RWA in 1997 and became a PRO member in 2008.  I joined FF&P, as well around 2006.  Both organizations have kept me in the writing loop, as Alaska is a pretty remote place to live and try to remain active in writing circles.

I spent years going to conferences like ECWC (Emerald City Wirter's Conference) and the Maui Writer's Conference.  I joined the local chapter of RWA in Anchorage, and drove 2 and a half hours to get to the meetings.  I knew that I had to remain active in the writing community any way I could, if I wanted to make my career a success.

When my son graduated from High School in 2008, married and went into the USAF, my husband and I relocated to Nevada so that we could be closer to California and our relatives.

PR:  WOW.  Talk about persistence.  But you had a dream!  Now tell us about Goddess Cottage. 

I finished Goddess Cottage in 2008 and entered it into the Golden Heart contest two years running.  I did receive high marks, but it didn't garner an award.  I sent the manuscript out twice to publishers, and though it was requested in full by Kensington Publishing in March this year, they passed on it.  My writing friends and critique partners all pushed me to get it published.  Everyone was so encouraging, and I truly felt the book was ready and that I was ready for my career to begin.

On April 20th, 2011 my husband and I decided that we'd publish my book ourselves.  We researched the markets and chose Bookbaby.com.  They created the lovely cover, and it became an Ebook for $1.99 available on all Ebook formats.

I joined Twitter, made a Facebook page under the name Sheropatra and had my own website created.  www.sheropatra.com 

The book is doing quite well, and receiving great reviews on both Ebook outlets and Goodreads.com.

PR:  What is the story about?

Goddess Cottage is a story about a young woman, Sierra Kastian and her struggles with a talent for psychic intuition that she cannot explain nor control.  She grew up lonely, with a mother who gambles with similar powers to fulfill her own emptiness.  She was told from birth that she has no other relatives nor is her father alive.  On the brink of turning 30, her life is tipped upside down by the appearance of a man, Hayden Wells.  He delivers a package to her, with a tarot card and pictures of an estranged aunt whom is requesting that Sierra come to Alaska to visit her before her death.  When she goes to Alaska she must face that her mother lied to her about everything in her childhood.  She is taught her family history, and told that she is an Ivory Witch, born to marry a werewolf and to protect a secret world of other races in the wilds of Alaska. 

I believe that Goddess Cottage is about healing, acceptance and allowing your fate to become a part of who you are, even if you fear where it may take you.

PR:  What inspired you to write this story?

I like to intertwine my own personal experiences with things that my imagination conjures to make sense of them.  I grew up with a large family of poker players and fun loving relatives, all of us competitive and high spirited.   But, when I imagine people who are alone, as my Heroine Sierra Kastian was portrayed to have been, a story begins to form in my mind and I fight to get it down on paper.

Usually, I write out a rough draft of my idea, in a binder that I keep all my ideas filed in.  Then, I take the time to plot out my character sketches and a brief outline before I start the actual writing process.

PR: What is your writing process?  Do you outline or just go for it?

I use an outline, but merely as a guide.  I like my characters to tell me where my story is going.  I think it is great if other writers can make a neat and tidy outline and stick to it, but it wouldn't work for me.  Aside from the rough synopsis, I like to fly by the seat of my pants and let the story unfold in its own way.

PR:  How do you choose a setting or place for your stories?

I love to revisit places I went as a child, because I believe it is then that we imprint the true flavor and feeling of the place into our minds.  I grew up going back and forth to Lake Tahoe and Reno, so those memories have left a great impression on me.  I think one can suspect if a writer is writing about a childhood place, as the memories make the setting seem more believable. 

PR: Explain Paranormal Romance and FF&P?

Paranormal Romance is the genre I choose to gravitate towards because I grew up with parents who are avid antiquers.  They taught us about the age of items, the histories attached and they liked to speculate that certain items could have past memories attached to them. 

I was never afraid of ghosts or the idea of the paranormal as a kid.  I grew up watching all the old B&W horror films, and I am a big time collector of that genre.  I have all the old movie posters on my office walls, and I never tire of watching the corniest films.  However, I think when I first saw the movies Poltergeist & The Shining ~ I knew what my calling was. I wanted to write those types of stories, but with Romance at the forefront of the plot.  It excited me to think of a couple in peril from a paranormal element as they tried to remain together.

FF&P (Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal) is another writing group I belong to.  It encompasses all the creature romances:  Vampires, Werewolves and Ghosts.  But, because you can use the fantasy element, it allows a writer to world-build, too.

I am currently plotting a YA Steampunk trilogy using all of my FF&P skills.  But, I don't expect it to be out for some time.  I've been working on it between my romance novels.

PR: Do I write with on a notepad, laptop, or use a journal?

I use the writing software WriteWayPro on my PC and laptop.  I keep a binder on my desk with the essential guidelines of my current WIP, and then I just dive right into the writing stage.  After each chapter I complete, I go back and edit.  And each day, I re-read the previous chapter to get myself back into the mood and tone of the story.

PR: What's your next release about?

At the end of June, I will be releasing my second Paranormal Romance, The Witch Ball.  Again, it will be available on Ebooks of all formats. 

It is a novel set in Placerville, Ca about a woman who is a picker.  She buys antiques from auctions and estate sales and re-sells them in her shop in Old Sacramento with her business partner.  This story is a very personal one for me, as it retraces a bit of the Donner Party history and the archaic beliefs in items such as the Witch Ball and the practice of hanging and condemning innocent women by men of ignorance.  The book is set in the present day, but the story revolves around a haunted collection of items the Heroine buys in a Victorian home in Placerville.  She becomes so engrossed in the items and their paranormal connection to history, that she becomes nearly possessed by the ghost of a woman from the past. With the help of the Hero, there will be the happy ending that is expected, but their journey will be hauntingly suspenseful.

I have a passion for stories involving Witches.  Since I was a child, I did all my history reports on Salem and witchcraft and such.  It is one of those fascinations that has long held a place in my imagination and I don't believe that will ever change.

PR: What's in store for the future?

I will be starting my third Paranormal Romance novel, again set in Alaska, with shape-shifters and Native Alaskan Heritage playing a large role.  I haven't titled it yet, but I've been playing with the rough draft in between my deadlines for getting my second novel out.

At the same time, I am fleshing out the details for the YA trilogy, and I hope to have the first book ready to present by the end of summer.

I will be going to the ECWR in Seattle on October 28-30th and I hope to reconnect with many of my writer friends, but also to meet new ones.

I have a contest on the last day of every month on my website, and this month it's for a $20 B&N gift card.  All you do is go to the website and fill out the Contact Me form.
I'm a big believer in my readers, and I personally answer all my emails, Facebook and Twitter messages. 

I hope that in the future, I will have a fan base so large that I will have to hire a secretary to help me in that department.

PR:  GOOD LUCK!  I hope that happens soon!

Find Sherri online at http://www.sheropatra.com/
Connect with Sherri by searching for Sheropatra on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads

Friday, June 10, 2011

All The Wrong Places, review by Sandra Sanchez


All The Wrong Places
By Rebecca Fisher
ISBN #9780615418292

To call a  semi autobiographical novel about escape from an abusive relationship  a “fun” read will probably sound irreverent but All The Wrong Places truly is a lot of fun to read.  The narrator, Casey, is vulnerable but proud and determined, the bad guy, Jerry, is really bad but not unrealistically so, the good guys (in the mortuary) are caring, smart and often absolutely hilarious. The plot is just bizarre enough to be real, in fact some of it is based on the author’s own experience.  The structure is easy to follow and all questions are answered  in good time. I can’t think of a better book to make a reader feel good about the possibilities in life.

The promo materials say that the book is a “courageous, emotive account of the struggles that so many American women encounter” and I’d have to say that most American women who find themselves in abusive relationships are not so lucky as to crash their cars on the grounds of a mortuary with a resident savior, but it is more than heartwarming to follow this protagonist’s unlikely, bizarre but believable rescue. I did myself work in a shelter  for battered women thinking I’d pursue an MSW to do counseling, when it occurred to me that most victims of domestic violence were in greater need of legal assistance and I made a  last minute decision to apply to law school instead.  So I can say from years of experience that the courtroom scenes and the scenes with the court appointed G.A.L were spot on accurate and could certainly have transpired just as the author described them.  Also completely authentic and insightful was how Casey reacted to winning her custody and property battles in court: she knew that, with nothing to lose, Jerry would be that much more determined to take vengeance so she was not being over dramatic to fear for her life.  I realize I have just revealed quite a bit of the plot but it doesn’t matter because it is not so much suspense that keeps a reader turning the pages, as the absolute joy of hanging out with the Golden Oaks mortuary gang.  You definitely want to meet these fine folks.

Rebecca Fisher is clearly up to turning any kind of real life circumstances into literature that combines seriousness with the out loud laughter that so often saves us from despair, gritty realism with the magic of dreams and psychic insights.  And if  happy endings after these kinds of opening circumstances might seem a stretch, well she makes this happy ending not only plausible but a true celebration.  Read and rejoice!

Sandra Shwayder Sanchez
author of Stillbird, Three Novellas, A Mile In These Shoes

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sandra Sanchez Review of Shadow of Schizophrenia

Shadow of Schizophrenia
by Francin Pinto
Body and Soul Books
ISBN 9789381115008

This slim but courageous 86 page book is a multi layered look at economic and social decline in Mumbai. The introduction lists all the technical advances of 21st century life before pointing out that 70% of the 1.3 billion people living in India live on an average of 20 CENTS per day, 7 out of 10 children under the age of 14 years do not finish school but must go out to work to help support their families. At the same time 1,3% of the population forms the "iconic super rich billionaire class", 10% are millionaires and 33.7 form the country's middle class. the other 55% have no idea where tomorrow's meal will come from.

She raises the question: "Do material comforts such as cars, laptops, jet planes, close circuit cameras, malls, national ID programmers, computerizations of every necessary system from railway booking to banking, internet, emails, SMS', maids at our beck and call, best designer brands, 7 star hotels with excellent ambiance, IGSE, ICSE, MBA degrees, etc. make us better human beings?"  She then points out that India still has 1200 tribes who live "as their ancestors lived without bank balance, without any clue about the future, without stress. . . " and describes how living on the barter system, conserving natural resources and respecting their elders is how they teach their younger generations to live in harmony with nature (i.e social sanity). She laments the loss of times when children had a childhood with the freedom to fly kites, climb trees and people shared with one another.  When writing about the loss of better times and lamenting the ills that have come with so called "progress" the author falls into a rthymic pattern of speech that is like a chant, a pure cry to the heavens to hear her plea.

In the midst of all this, her character, Jessica, a young suburban woman with an interest in scientific study moves into the field of management in order to reap the rewards of more prevalent livelihood opportunities but is still obsessed with her interest in scientific study. Jessica decides to make a study of the effects of mental illness on productivity (as a management tool) and takes a look at three families: the "control"family and two familes who respond differently to the influence of having among them a family member who suffers from schizophrenia. 

It appears to be the author's intent to draw an analogy from an individual's insanity to an entire society's insanity. Certainly the statistics in the introduction point out a society that is not functioning in a sane manner. Jessica seeks to make comparisons from animal behavior (which was her field of study initially as a scientist)  and human evolution to the evolution of mental disorders in individuals, what is it that goes wrong and detours the individual (or the society) onto the path leading to extreme dysfunction? And how do individuals and societies find happiness despite the presence of insanity? 

The author is a social worker dedicated to working toward social improvement and this book is the first of what may be several books raising questions about how best to do that and including the answers she discovers along the way. 



Sandra Shwayder Sanchez

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