Sunday, June 27, 2010

Author Interview: Jackie Ivie

Let's get to know Jackie Ivie, author of A Knight and White Satin. Be sure to read my review and her guest blog!

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your other writing projects...past, present and future.

Jackie Ivie
: Wow.  What a loaded question.  I wrote for 22 years before I got “the call”. And it was always historical romance.  Always.  I had nine books written before my first, Lady of the Knight, debuted in 2004.  Since then, I’ve put out a historical Highland romance every year.  My latest is A Knight and White Satin, I’ll have Knight Everlasting out in the fall of 2011.  In the meantime, I added a couple of other projects.  I just finished a super-short (13,000 word) Scot historical anthology – coming out in January 2011, and then I’ll be finishing a Highland Historical Vampire anthology for Kensington!  Not that I can ever forget my first love:  historical.  I’ve got two more historical romances near-ready:  One called A Knight Like no Other, and the other is A Perfect Knight for Love.  

Jennifer Walker: What gave you the idea to write A Knight and White Satin

Jackie Ivie
: Tough one.  I haven’t an answer.  The opening scene came to me a couple of years ago, and I had chapter one written in 2007-ish.  Then in January 2009 (under a deadline), I opened that chapter back up, and just ran with it.  I’m a pantser - not a plotter – so I’m all about “living it” as I write it.

Jennifer Walker: You seem to have quite an affinity for Scots. Is there something to that?

Jackie Ivie
: I do.  I’ve got some Scot lineage on my mother’s side and the country is loaded with everything history nuts love:  Battles.  Lust.  Wrongs.  Oppression.  Freedom.  Passions.  And then…there’s those kilts.  There’s nothing that says hero (to me) as much as a bold, brawny, beautiful Scot attired in a kilt.  Add in that brogue.  And that utter…manliness.  What’s not to love?   Sean Connery.   Gerard Butler.  Ewan McGregor.  James McAvoy.  Daniel Craig.  To name a few.  Oh My!

Jennifer Walker: Did you have to do a lot of research to write this story?

Jackie Ivie
: I seem to do research as much as I breathe.  I’m always reading, watching a DVD, or taking a course on history.  I have so many history books and DVDs they’re almost uncountable.  I simply love castles.  So…I didn’t have much research to once I sat down.  In ten days.  During the deepest , darkest, coldest part of an Alaskan winter.  I had a heating wrap on my lap to cradle my hands between inspiration jags.  It was that cold.  And I was that inspired.   

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your background. Education, experience, etc--especially if it relates to writing.

Jackie Ivie
: Wish I could find some way to specify this!  I’ve been on a search for knowledge for years.  Self-disciplined, really.  My kids have called me super-geek for years.  Because I love everything historical.    

Jennifer Walker: What were your greatest challenges in writing this book and getting published?

Jackie Ivie
: The greatest challenge about this story was getting the fight scenes right.  I’ve never actually been in any fights, and then came the part when Payton was going into battle against two men!  Oh my.  I told my hubby I’d really gotten into a fix and needed help.  he left for work chuckling for me to have a nice time with it.  And when he got home and read it, he told me he knew I’d figure it out.  I spent a portion of those ten days sobbing my eyes out, too.  What else could I do?  Payton and Dallis were as real to me as my own reflection.      

Jennifer Walker: Is there any historical accuracy to A Knight and White Satin?

Jackie Ivie
: Yes.  And no.  The main characters are only real to me.  They didn’t exist.  There wasn’t a Dallis Caruth or a Payton Dunn-Fadden.  There’s no data that King James had a champion that fought bouts for him.  But just about everything that creates the “feel” of the era is as accurate as I can get it.        

Jennifer Walker: At what point in your life did you decide to become a writer? Why?

Jackie Ivie
: Man!  Great question.  I used to be one of the most avid readers anyone could imagine.  And then (back in 1982), I found a novel that I couldn’t finish.  I can’t remember why or which one, or anything else.  I made the comment that anyone could write better.  Even me.  And my dear hubby said – “Here.  Prove it.  Here’s some paper.  A pen.”  That said, I started writing.  Longhand.  And it became an addiction.  And obsession.  I just know now that if you’re a writer, it’s something you have to do.  Putting thoughts, actions, passions, and scenes into existence is just about nirvana. 

Jennifer Walker: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Jackie Ivie
: I can narrow it down (almost) to the British Isles. For the Medieval castles - just to get the aura of them. I don’t think it’s possible to visit all of them, but I’d put Caernarfon Castle in Wales on the list, Fyvie, Drum, Caerlaverock, Edinburgh and Stirling….  The list is endless.  And that’s before I factor in the chateaus of the Loire Valley in France, the Krak de Chevaliers in Syria.  Oh my.  I might have to widen my choice!  

Jennifer Walker: What is your favorite dessert?

Jackie Ivie
: It’s a tie:  Double Dutch Chocolate pudding-cake and/or Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese frosting.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Guest blog with Jackie Ivie

Yesterday, you read my review of Jackie Ivie's A Knight and White Satin (I hope--if not, you should). Today, Jackie shares the magical experience of getting her books published. Read on...then, come back tomorrow to learn a little more about her in her author interview!

The Writing Life:  The Call, the emotions…and the after-effects

Hi!  Jackie Ivie here – author of several Highland Historical Romances from Kensington Publishing, including the upcoming A Knight and White Satin – October.  (have to get in the promo wherever you can….)

There’s something about the writing thing that nobody can ever take away from you.  Regardless of any less-than-stellar reviews, down-time between contracts, worry over funds and the future, and the over-all ups and downs of a writing career.  And that something is the memories.

I remember “the Call” it like it happened yesterday…no this morning!  There was nothing special about it.  One moment, I was handling my day job.  The next I got a call from my agent telling me my book had an offer!  I can describe it.  There’s a rush.  A light-headedness.  A lack of sound from anywhere in the world while your body absorbs total shock and joy.  It’s like everything stopped so I’d have ample time to set it to memory.  And then the goose bumps started.

I got a call next from my new (and still) editor, Audrey LaFehr.  I love her.  The woman is talented, gracious, beautiful and gives me really gorgeous covers.  You have to see them to believe it.  I’ve won the JABBIC (Judge a Book by Its Cover) contest in Houston twice with my covers!  (Tender is the Knight in 2006 and A Knight Well Spent in 2009).

And then I got a coverflat in the mail.  Without warning.  It was another normal day, and then wham!  I opened the large manila envelope from New York, and my jaw dropped.  My eyes widened.  It’s literally another one of those moments when shivers flow and tears threaten.  There’s a REAL book coming out, with a hunk on the cover totally resembling my hero, a castle (there’s always a castle in my books).  And a back cover blurb that makes me tremble.  (There’s another reason I love my editor)   And the absolute wonder of it?  My name’s on it!  My Name?!  In raised gold foil lettering.  I folded one around an older book.  Rubber-banded it in place.  I took my pseudo-book with me everywhere.  If you ran into me, I had it in my hands.   I called it my talisman.  And it felt like it was.  Warding off all unpleasantness.  This is now a rite of passage.  My hubby even has multi-colored bands I use, making it look more real.  

But I have to admit, it all seemed like training for the most supreme feeling.  Holding the book in my hands.  This is another rite.  I stand and read everything again all over the cover.  I brush my fingers along it, tracing the raised lettering.  Looking at the spine.  My name.  OMG.  There it is.  And then I fluff the pages, hold it to my nose, and inhale.  That’s when the tears can’t be held back.  I stand there and cry.  The book store here in Palmer, Alaska, is used to me.  They call me when they get my book in.  I’m a bit over-dramatic.  I admit it.  But this in one time, everything in the world fades away, and there’s just this moment.  That supreme feeling.  The smell of a real, actual book.  Committed to memory. 

I wish this moment on every single writer.   I do.  It’s that priceless. 

I get to experience it again this October when A Knight and White Satin comes out.  I can’t wait.  But in the meantime…I have that folded coverflat going with me everywhere. 

If you’re a writer, finish the book.  Get it in the best condition you can.  And then query someone who can do something with it.  An agent.  An acquiring editor.  Someone.  It took me 22 years before I got the call.  But it happened. 

And it was totally worth it.   

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Review: A Knight and White Satin, by Jackie Ivie

A Knight and White Satin, by Jackie Ivie

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Zebra (October 5, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1420108840
Rating (1 to 5 *): ****

A Knight and White Satin Review

Dallis Caruth’s wedding was nothing like she ever thought it would be. For one thing, the groom was a member of a much-hated rival clan. For another, the wedding was held without her consent after said groom, the detested Payton Dunn-Fadden, lay siege to Dallis’s keep and took it for his own.

Dallis spends the next two years using the money Payton sends her, meant for restoring the keep, on sending challengers to kill him. Her efforts are unsuccessful, and when he returns to claim his property (including his wife), he finds that although he had won her in name, he has to win her in spirit as well.

However, just when he seems to have managed that, he faces a new threat: Laird Kilchurning, who was Dallis’s betrothed before Payton took her, attacks the keep to reclaim what he sees as his. Payton and his men rescue Dallis and her Aunt Evelyn from the tower where she is held captive, and they make their way to the see the king about intercession. Before it is all over, Payton must alternatively get past his wife’s betrayals and fight for his place in her heart.

Jackie Ivie’s A Knight and White Satin takes the reader into a very hot, very steamy romance deep in the heart of Dark Ages Scotland. Experience a love that is so deep and tender, the lovers are rocked to their very core before they can even admit to themselves what their true feelings are. Follow along with Dallis and Payton as first she rejects him, then they work together to solve their problems—between smoking hot love scenes, that is.

An author-provided copy of the book was provided for this review.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday book give-away

From Linda Weaver Clarke:

Book Give-Away June 14 - 21: Interview with Mystery/Suspense Author Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen and book give away! “A forged letter, a golden vial, an ancient curse...” TRAPPED is about a sheltered Florida girl who wakens to find a thief in her mother’s home. After she escapes, she discovers he not only stole two paintings, but he also left behind shrines dedicated to her and a mysterious note, a "trap," which eventually leads her and the man she loves to a mafia-like world within the Austrian Alps. Visit and leave a comment if you’re interested in this amazing book.
Every Monday I try to have a new book give away! If you’re interested in getting to know new authors, don’t forget to check out my past interviews if you haven’t.
Best Wishes to you all,
Linda Weaver Clarke

Monday, June 7, 2010

Another book give away!

From Linda Weaver Clarke:

Book Give-Away June 7 - 14: Interview with Author Laura Lyseight and book give away! Laura has been a source of inspiration and great influence in the lives of many teenagers and children. Her burning ambition to see teens find and reach their full potential has driven her to write books to challenge, empower and enrich their lives beyond their own expectations. A private tutor and coach, and a best-selling author, Laura is mentoring teens to leadership and helping them create their own success stories. Visit and leave a comment if you’re interested in this amazing book.
Every Monday I try to have a new book give away! If you’re interested in getting to know new authors, don’t forget to check out my past interviews if you haven’t.
Linda Weaver Clarke

Friday, June 4, 2010

Author Interview: Chris Wardle

Let's get to know a little more about Chris Wardle, author of the Mr. Tinfish series. Be sure to read my review of the book and Chris's guest blog!

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about your other books. What are they about?

Chris Wardle: Mr. Choli’s River Trip is the second book in a series of five comical adventures. Mr. Tinfish and his companions are a strange collection of quirky animals including penguins, goats, cats, and wallabies living in a colony that is affected by different aspects of climate change and environmental issues. Normally sorting out the problems requires an expedition to find out what is going on and what steps can be taken to reduce the negative impacts. This usually starts with a meeting led by the pompous Walrus, Mr. Vinegar, as he likes to show everyone he’s the most important, and results in Mr. Choli leading the expedition as he has his own magnifying glass. Mr. Choli is also responsible for communicating any progress back to Mr. Vinegar via various means including messages in bottles, carrier pigeon, and drawings, all of which tend to frustrate rather than help.  Fortunately there are a few more sensible characters, like Mr. Denzel the mole, who ensure a degree of success goes their way. The series should raise basic awareness of a number of environmental issues, and is hopefully a funny and entertaining read.    

Jennifer Walker: What inspired the story of Mr. Choli's River Trip?

Chris Wardle: Whilst at university (some time ago now) I recall that part of my environmental change studies included the issue of plant species migration in response to climate change. In theory, as the climate gets warmer then some plant species at lower altitudes may not grow well in the hotter conditions. However, at a slightly higher altitude, which may have previously been too cold for these plants, the temperatures have also increased and the lower altitude plants are more suited to growing there. So, depending on the rate of climate change and the rate at which plants can migrate (which relates partly to the plants reproductive method, e.g. wind-blown seeds, runners, carried by host, etc.) some plants are able to migrate up the slopes, and some do not survive. There are other aspects of this as well, but the general idea helped to form the plot of the book, in that a warming climate changed the types of plants that were able to continue growing at the colony, but that other plants which might also be useful sources of food could replace them. Therefore, Mr. Choli takes his boat up the river to try and find different plant species that are doing well in the warmer conditions so that he and his team can take them back and plant them at the colony.   

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about the illustrations. Who did them?

Chris Wardle: I have done my own illustrations for the Tinfish series. For each book there are pictures on the back cover, with five or six scenes from the story painted in water-colours. Inside the books are small black and white sketches (about three per chapter). The illustrating, despite my ‘grade C’ at art back in high school, took a surprisingly long time to do. I’ve found that the secret is to find an aspect of the story that matches my artistic abilities. Therefore, the pictures are not of particularly complicated scenes, whilst still conveying the ideas.

Jennifer Walker: What is your next writing project?

Chris Wardle: I’ve recently finished writing the fifth book in the Tinfish series called “Mr. Ginger and the Disappearing Fish”. In this book the sea near to the colony suffers from an El Nino type event, so that the currents become warmer and the fish, on which many in the colony depend, migrate to cooler waters. As a result lots of hungry seabirds turn up and over-fish the nearby river. Mr. Ginger, who is Mr. Choli’s permanently hungry side-kick, takes the initiative to get an investigation underway to find somewhere for the seabirds to move on to, whilst Mr. Denzel makes a fishpond to help restock the river-fish. I was really entertained writing it, and believe that it’s one of the funnier adventures.

Jennifer Walker: What is (are) your favorite genre to read?

Chris Wardle: A lot of my fictional reading seems to be dependent on what I find in airport book stores or borrow from other expats bookshelves. Normally I would go for something funny, or a mystery.

Jennifer Walker: How did you become an author, and how did your publishing journey begin?

Chris Wardle: I discovered my passion for creative writing whilst living in a small village in Cameroon in 1999. It was my first oversees posting and I was a lone volunteer managing the construction of a water supply project.  There was no TV, telephone, or indeed electricity for that matter. I had been writing a lot of letters home about my experiences and found that I really enjoyed putting pen to paper. As a result I decided to write a short story about the pop band that I had played in at college.  I wrote it on scraps of paper, and found myself cutting out paragraphs from different pages and sticking them at the sides of others with duct-tape. The resulting collage of scribbling needed instructions to navigate. After discovering the pleasures of this creative process I went on to write longer stories about my adventures in Cameroon, and the subsequent places I’ve worked in over the past ten years. A lot of my travels have since influenced the characters and adventures that I write about in the Tinfish Series.

In terms of publishing, I found out about self-publishing websites whilst watching a TV documentary and decided to look into the idea. It wasn’t long before I had my first book out there, which is a very satisfying feeling. However, the self-marketing aspect seems to be a far steeper learning curve, and one which I feel I am only just starting on.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your family. Are they supportive of your writing?

Chris Wardle: My wife and my mum are both fans of the Mr. Tinfish series and have helped with proof-reading and spell-checking. My mother-in-law is also getting into them, and has read the first two books. She seems determined that my next book should include a character called ‘Belle the drooling hound’ based on her over-excitable and saliva-dripping Labrador.

Jennifer Walker: What is your opinion of the publishing industry today?

Chris Wardle: I am quite new to the publishing world and I have been impressed with the website that I self-publish through. This is a good way for people to get hold of a copy if they have come across the book from reading about it on a blog, my website, or on facebook. However, whilst I would personally use the internet to find a particular technical book for my work, I am probably less likely to use it to buy fiction. I normally pick up novels at an airport or train station and so, as a self-publisher, the books I am writing are not reaching those who are within that category.

Jennifer Walker: Do you have any hobbies?

Chris Wardle: My hobbies include playing the piano and writing songs. However, in recent years I’ve always traveled with a guitar and my skills are slowly improving. I also consider aspects of writing as a hobby. For example, I’ve been writing a detailed journal of my travels over the past ten years in Africa and Asia which is very much for my own entertainment rather than as a publishing project.

Jennifer Walker: If you could meet any person, living or dead, for lunch tomorrow, who would it be?

Chris Wardle: There are many famous people I would like to meet. However, I wouldn’t necessarily want to spend an entire lunchtime with all of them. Also, there are people in whose company I wouldn’t want to risk my own feeling of devastation as I accidentally knock over the soup, or attempt to spear something on my plate only to see it fly off at high speed in their direction. Therefore, I think that the key to this decision is first choosing what we’re going to eat. If it was a bar meal, perhaps scampi and chips, then I might invite Lewis Hamilton. A leisurely picnic with Michael Caine could be pleasant. If we were getting Chicken Tikka Masala take-away, then I’d probably choose Charles Darwin.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Guest blog with Chris Wardle

Today, we have a guest blog from Chris Wardle, author of the Mr. Tinfish series.

River Trips
Whilst working in Cambodia ten years ago I was involved in several flood-response programs. The Mekong River, at over a kilometre wide in Kampong Cham where I was based, was an incredible sight.  In full-flood it was something else. Apart from the sheer volume of water in the river, along the flood plains and in the tributaries, the mechanisms that were used by the communities to deal with the regular wet season floods were impressive. 

As with much of rural Cambodia, the traditional houses were built on stilts so that cool air could circulate underneath and animals could be brought under for shelter. In the wet season, and particularly in times of flooding, houses on stilts clearly had additional advantages. 

The village communities of the Mekong stretched along its banks like two incredibly thin cities, and the best way to reach them and assess the impact of the flooding was by boat. In the villages the water could be about a metre deep and we were able to sail our small boats with outboard motors up the village streets. Cattle that belonged to families would patiently perch on temporary bamboo platforms, built like small islands next to the houses. The chickens would perch anywhere they could, and the adults would be perched in their doorways. The children, meanwhile, would be playing in the water having a great time. The fishermen were also wading around at the sides of people's houses and along the streets, evidently enjoying the fact that they could now work from home.

In the town of Kampong Cham the traders had built small temporary brick walls across the shop entrances to keep the water out. To get to the market required people to wade through the muddy waters and floating rubbish. However, this could be liberating for the goods at the fish sellers which normally arrived at the market still alive. Several got a second chance at life, and were seen eagerly escaping down the aisles to freedom between the damp stalls of slip-on shoes and plastic clocks. 

A year later I was lucky enough to be working in the north of Cambodia for 18 months on a water program, and met the Mekong again. In the north on the Laos border the vast expanse of river had been replaced by a braided complex of smaller channels, divided by large grey rocks that rose out from the swirling water. To reach the communities nestled along the riverbanks we hired traditional boats shaped like long wooden canoes, each with a juddering lawnmower-like engine sitting on the back to propel us. The long canoes were just about wide enough for someone to sit inside cross-legged, were very wobbly and extremely unstable. Our motos and trial bikes had to be carefully laid across the front of the boats, precariously balanced, and the passengers sat towards the back. 

In the time that I was in Cambodia I’d travelled on the Mekong using traditional canoes, barges, ferries, and outboards. I’d waded in it, and washed in it, tested its quality, travelled in the heat of the day, in thunderstorms, and in the night time with the driver’s mate sitting at the front with a torch looking for rocks. When writing the River Trip of Mr. Choli, it was inevitable that the Mekong would be a big part of my inspiration for the setting. In my travels I’ve come across many rivers in Asia and Africa, but none that I ever really felt more than a passing admiration for as a tourist. As for the Mekong, I feel like I’d lived with it a little.

Chris Wardle holds a bachelor’s degree in physical geography as well as a Master’s degree for water supply in developing countries.

Over the last ten years Chris has travelled extensively in developing countries working on projects in poor communities. He has been able to draw on his numerous experiences to inspire his creative works, particularly living for long periods in communities with different cultures in Africa and Asia.

An orphaned kitten in Northern Uganda was the inspiration for Mr. Choli’s character in the Tinfish series. He now lives in the UK with Chris’s family (via a few months with a foster family in France to organise his European passport).


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mr. Choli's River Trip, by Chris Wardle

Pages: 87
Age Range: 8-12 years
Rating (1 to 5 *): ****

Book Review:

The time of humans has past and the animals have taken over. Out of necessity, they have learned to band together and form colonies so they can help each other survive in an environment that has vastly changed. In the Daphne Wood colony, the animals are learning that the hot, dry winds that now plague their home are making too harsh of an environment for many of their plants to grow and thrive. As a result, some of the animals face starvation if something isn’t done.

The animals gather together and determine that an expedition is necessary to find new plants that might survive better in the new climate. Mr. Choli, a cat and the colony’s resident detective, is put in charge of the expedition. Along with a paranoid parrot and a host of other amusing animals, Mr. Choli sets sail up the river to see what he can find. What he finds are new friends, new foods, and several fun adventures to share with his friends back home.

Meanwhile, the folks back at Daphne Wood have been working on ways to make the plants they are already familiar with grow better. However, just when things seem to be going well, a huge forest fire threatens to destroy everything they have worked so hard for.

Chris Wardle has written a whole series of children’s books about the various adventures of the animals in Daphne Wood. They explore the impact on the environment caused by humans along with how that impact affects the remaining animals. The stories teach the reader about surviving in the face of adversity and working with others to make things happen.

Some areas of the book could use some development—we spend a lot of time reading about things that we missed, some of which we might like to read in more detail. I also found the sheer number of characters overwhelming and couldn’t remember who was what kind of animal in order to keep the picture in my head. However, Mr. Choli’s River Trip was a cute story, the characters were likeable and several scenes were quite funny. A fun read for kids.

Tomorrow, we will learn a little more about Chris Wardle in his author interview. Come back to check it out!

An author-provided copy of the book was provided for this review.