Book Hippo

Monday, November 28, 2011

Czech Republic

Here is my second and last interview with an author who has written a book in an exotic locale. This time, I talk to Cyrus Keith who is the author of Unalive, part of the NADIA Project. You can find Unalive at the following link:    It costs just $5.95 USD. Here's what Cyrus had to say.

First, could you tell us something about yourself?
OK. I'm a large, hairy Englishman by descent and 100% unashamed American by birth. I share my back yard with half the whitetail deer population of the lower 48 states, and though I do not shoot at Bambi, I do enjoy a good venison roast.

How did you come to choose The Czech Republic as a locale for your novel?
I needed a site on the other side of the world for a secret laboratory, plain and simple. It had to be remote from the U.S. and still have access to high-tech medical knowledge without standing out so far it would give it's secret away.
I also figured that with all the changes in eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it would be a simple matter of sneaking in with the right people and equipment, and in the confusion of change, this secret organization could be established and operating in full force before anyone who could stop them knew what was happening.

How did you come by your characters and are they based on anyone?
I only have a few Czech characters, but they're all good guys (mostly). My main characters are American, trying to unfold a grand conspiracy by a group trying to take control of world governments for their own purposes. I did my best to stay true to what I have heard about the generosity and kindness of common people, while keeping my bad guys as wicked and evil as I could, which, by the reviews I've received so far, are bery wicked and evil. Mua-ha-ha-ha!

Do you hope to visit the area you've written about?
By all means. I have heard from numerous sources that Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I would dearly love to visit there. I stole my descriptions from as many tourist websites as I could find, and I am seriously falling in love with eastern Europe in general, and Prague in particular. I want so bad to
taste the local food.

Say anything you want to say about your novel.
In the second installment of The NADIA Project, the potential stakes are raised even higher. The lab where Nadia was built is no more. But when The Pinnacle strikes back at the government agencies trying to crack its secrets, a horrible truth emerges: the evil cabal of kingmakers is still building living weapons of mass destruction somewhere on the globe.
Jon Daniels and Nadia Velasquez must find the lab and stop it before a new wave of terror erupts across the world. In order to succeed, though, they must get through The Pinnacle's most deadly weapon: Jenna Paine.
All who stand between evil and the innocent are two ancient warriors, a misfit genius, a rogue FBI agent, and a living antimatter bomb named NADIA.

It all sounds so exciting. It's all at MuseItUp Publishing.
Bye all.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gender Difference

Many times I've caught myself trying to put my finger on the one thing that makes men and women different from each other. What mental process defines each sex. Each time I think I've got it, I have to pull back and think do I know any of the other sex with the same thoughts. First, there's the aggression. Well, women fight. Then there's the time I thought that women were more likely to turn down a job promotion if it meant that their children would suffer. But then I think of the men I know who have done the same. Mostly single fathers who are the prime parent for their little ones.
One night, I thought I'd hit on it. When men are the victims of a crime, they always say. "I'd like to have just five minutes alone with him." Meaning, of course, he'd like to fight him. Women say. "I'd like to give him a piece of my mind."
Then I remember years ago when I was young in Vancouver, BC. I took a self-defense course. They were teaching quite of few of these courses back then because the issue of rape was big in the media and women were demanding to be allowed to have a fair chance of fighting back. Now as I played street hockey with my brother as a child, I was always considered by many to be more aggressive then most girls. I thought I would do well. The teacher paired us up to learn some wrestling, to get us used to using our bodies. I was grappling for a time when I heard the teacher say, "You've got brothers, don't you?" I thought she was talking to me when I looked up she was looking at a gorgeous blond girl who had another girl at her feet on the floor. She answered, "I have seven brothers. They're all wrestlers and my father's a wrestling coach.."
I still had a bit of an attitude when the teacher paired me and her together. I thought I would have a chance to fight with her for at least a minute. Our hands touched. I was on the floor next thing I knew. She stood above me a smiled her beautiful smile. "Do you have a boyfriend?" I asked. "Yes," she said. "He's a wrestler,too." "Who wins your arguments?" I ask. "He puts up a good fight." she said.
So whenever I now think of gender reactions to crime, I wonder if somewhere out there is at least one woman who, when someone jumps out to attack her, turns and says. "All right. You're on."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Russian Locale

This blog features a fellow Muse author, Killarney Sheffield. Her novel, The Horseguard's Lady is due out in December. You will be able to download it from MuseItUp Publishing Website. Here is a bit about it and some questions for Killarney.

Lady Rosemary Wellington is your typical London debutante who faces a life of eternal boredom when she is betrothed to the Marquis of Joliemere. However her grandmother plans for her go awry when Rose decides to help her cousin, Princess Elizabeth, escape her own unwanted marriage. Rose finds herself kidnapped by the leader of a Russian group of Cossacks.
In steps our hero, Prince Dimity Peterlovsky. He has been put in charge of catching the rebel Cossack leader, a task that may not seem all that daunting, however it is a true test of his loyalty to the tsar. Life becomes even more complicated for him when he rescues Rose. He believes her to be Princess Elizabeth, which comes with a huge host of political problems. Now, his country is facing a potential war with Britain and France, but he has his doubts. Could she really be Sergei's ally? Or has he made a terrible mistake?

It is a romance. Here are some questions Killarney answered for me.

Could you tell us something about yourself?
Before becoming a published author I was a horse trainer, farrier and riding instructor. I had written a couple of articles for my local newspaper's editorial section on how the USA's ban on horse slaughter was crippling the Canadian horse breeders market and forcing breeders like myself and others to give up their life long passions. The paper editor loved my articles and complimented me on the fact that he never had to edit anything I sent him. He asked me if I had ever considered writing a book. I had a good laugh over that one as I had half a dozen novels already written in my computer but was too chicken to send them to someone. I followed his advice and subbed to romance giant Avon and was slammed with an instant rejection. Why? Well, apparently under 'author bio' they wanted to know if I had ever had anything published before not my life story. I joined an online crit group and was told to sub toa small publisher first to get my writing credits. I subbed to three small presses and to my surprise received three contracts! I went with MuseItUp because I had heard wonderful thing about Lea ( head honcho at MuseItUp Publishing) and was told she was a great mentor for writers like myself who need to learn the ins and outs of publishing.

Why did you use Russia as a background for your story?
Well, The Horseguard's Lady is the first historical romance I ever wrote and my third published with MuseItUp. It was originally written in 2001 and at that time it was not a locale common for a historical. Russia is one of those places that is so rich in history and stories that it just all fell into place. Though I have never been there the shows and books I have seen showcasing their beautiful architecture really drew me in. I have a travel tape from a tourist place showing the lovely domed towers on the palaces and well, I was hooked on Russia. Also I loved the story of Anastasia that Disney did. I'm just a big kid at heart and love Disney cartoons! Incidentally, I have scoured book stores looking for an authentic book of Russian fairy tales but have not found one as of yet.

Which character in your novel do you like best?
Hands down the hero's sidekick Victor. He is tall, blonde and from day one was the heroine's champion despite his cousin Dimitry's insistence that Lady Rose was a spy. The man is so funny I decided to write a sequel to The Horseguard's Lady titled The Horseguard's Cousin. It is Victor's story of love found. It is one of the WIPs I have on the go right now.

So there you go all, if you want to experience a rousing romance in the exotic locale of Russia, you can look up Killarney's book in December. See you all later.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mental Illness

It's been a long time since the 1970s when help for young people with depression or other mental disorders were treated to therapists who were engaged in guesswork almost all of the time. The main idea of the time was that depression was a personal failure which could be erased by facing up to your mistakes. The government left these kids to deal with this alone, there was no backup, no psychiatric survivors groups, nothing when it didn't work out.
In the eighties, a contest for the best stage play by high school students left Ottawa aghast, all the plays were about depression in teens and suicide. It was commented on but there were no steps to help these kids. In the nineties, with the rise in Ottawa of the homeless population, mental illness became, in people's minds, associated with crimes and the illness of 'failures'.
Just a while ago, we had an election. I was phoned by one of the parties. I told them I was not interested in any of their platform, I was only interested in when was somebody going to do something about mental illness in young people. The woman said she, too was interested in this subject because as a grade school teacher, she saw many children with mental disorders, who needed care but weren't getting it. She convinced me to vote for her party, the man running was very interested in the subject. He got in but when I tried to talk to him about it, he never answered my letters or even the form he himself sent around.
Last year a hockey coach's daughter killed herself for depression and a couple of months ago an MPs teen-age boy committed suicide over depression caused by being picked on. Why are we, as a society leaving these kids to suffer like this. It seems it starts very young when we 'streetproof' our kids, making them take responsibility for themselves when they should be being watched. A little while ago, in a city park, a man tried to lure a young girl away from the playground. She ran to her mother at her house. Good. But why necessary? Why weren't there adults present on the playground to intimidate any perverts from hitting on kids. Now it's just my own amateur opinion, but I think when we have kids policing themselves, putting pressure on them from an early age to keep themselves safe, they tend to think they're all alone. How many times do the feel the burden of coping with their troubles all by themselves? These things tend to become a habit, in my opinion, so they learn not to reach out, there most probably won't be anyone to help them. Unfortunately, in the case of mental illness, they are right.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Montreal Retreat

The first good thing was that my short story: The Mountain City Bronzes, was published on November 4th, so anyone who wants to buy can go to MuseItUp Publishing website and go to dark or new releases but it's only new until friday the 11th. I had already been ready for two days beforehand to get to Montreal. It was all planned. My roommate wanted to drive me there early, so we left at 8 AM. That means we couldn't have much coffee, we didn't want any "pee-pee drawers" on the way. We arrived at the Holiday Inn at about 10:30 AM. David came in to see that all would be well. The staff were very welcoming so he went back to the car and left. Then the front desk clerk wanted my credit card. Well, I'd already given my credit card info on the phone to reserve my room and I hadn't brought it. So between me and the clerk we decided that I would pre-pay for my room (easy to do) and I would leave a deposit which I could get back when I checked out. Done.
 So I went up to the 14th floor. I have to say the elevators were a bit scary. The doors on one took at least a minute to close and on the way up, the elevator car banged against the shaft a few times. Others at the retreat make jokes about the elevators, too. The whole hotel was under renovations. There were a lot of mattresses in the hallways and plastic covering things but the area we were in, where the restaurant was, was quite nice, there were leather chairs and a sofa to sit on. They had complimentary coffee in the morning and lemonade in the afternoon and evening.
I had brought my bathing suit since they had a pool but then realized I'd forgotten to bring my lock for a locker, so didn't bother going swimming. I had a nice snooze when I got to my room 1415 at 11:00. Around 5:30 PM I wandered down to the lobby to wait for everyone. We were all going to meet in the lobby and we would finally meet Lea and Litsa in person. I was so nervous. Muse writers are always saying we're a family but until I met these wonderful people it didn't quite 'get in there'. They were all so nice. I felt immediately welcomed and at home. These are great people to be with.
We went to a Greek restaurant. I went with Kevin Craig and his lovely wife Allison. Sandra Clark sat next to me in the back seat. We suffered Quebec drivers, laughing about the turns with no signal and other things these drivers are wont to do, and arrived without mishap, although we did pass a serious accident on the way. I forget the name of the Greek restaurant but we had a private room which was set out very nice. The next room had a wedding going on so we had to deal with music from them but our meal and speeches went well. Mine was the worst speech. I'm not so good at public speaking. Everyone else was funny and competent at speaking before a crowd. Heather Haven was the funniest. She's so vibrant. Christine London was a very good speaker, too. I enjoyed all the speeches. Of course the best speeches were Lea and Litsa. Lea's son was doing videotaping so I think all the speeches are on tape and he taped Lea crying when she got the present the authors had got for her: a necklace. There was also crying from Litsa when speaking of Karen McGrath. There was a picture of her and a dedication.
The meal was so good. I had the steak. So good. Lea came around with clothes pegs. We each put two on and whenever we saw someone crossing their legs, we would take one of their pegs. I thought I was doing pretty good to do five but Lea's daughter had a whole belt full of pegs and Christine London had about thirteen. So Lea's daughter won. Then we had six volunteers. Three were dressmakers, three were models. The dressmakers had to choose from wigs and hats and ties and toilet paper and make a 'dress' on the model. My model was Sandra Clark. I chose a purple wig and orange bow-tie and devil horns. Then I put the toilet paper on her like a hula skirt. She wiggled her hips and it all fell off. So Karen Cote (dressmaker) and Heather Haven (model) won. I think they'd make a good team for anything. At the end of the evening we all paid the waiter twenty dollars and then we headed off. I went back with Kevin, Allison and Sandra once again and we managed to find our way back to the hotel. I fell into a most comfortable bed and had a great sleep. I was to learn that others did not sleep so well.
We met for breakfast at 9:00AM. We had our own little room in the restaurant next to the lobby. I was early so I had a few cups of coffee and chatted with Chris, the waiter, he was interested to know about Muse as was two other waiters whose names I didn't get. Nancy Bell, Doug Bell, her husband and Charles Mossop were next in, then came the crowd. I sat with Sarah Durham and her gorgeous daughter Michelle. They were such wonderful people. This is such a caring group. I feel badly for all the Muse authors who didn't make it. Hopefully you'll all get there next time. After breakfast we went to Zellars. I went once again with Kevin, Allison and Sandra. It was so close we could have walked but it was better by car. Lea and Litsa had done a great job setting up the MuseItUp tables. I tell you these two worked their you-know-whats off for this event. I was impressed, even more so than usual. Lea and Litsa are really special people. When people began coming in Litsa was the greeter and got people interested in coming to see us all. We all had our spaces at the table. I sat between Christine London whose husband Larry was there. He was of great help to her. Getting coffee and stuff. Karen Cote was on my other side and her husband was there, too. Of course, I would forget his name, so embarrassing. He was of great help to her, too. Karen sold the first book at Zellars and it was her first print book to sell. She just had to hug the woman who bought it. I think I may have seen the start to a beautiful friendship. I gave out my bookmarks. That's all I had with me. Everyone else had so much stuff I felt naked but now I know how to go about it. Christine had pens and Karen had lip balm. Such good ideas.
We were at Zellars for three hours and had a good turnout. We made $800.00. So good. Authors came up to us, too. They spent a lot of time talking to Lea. At the draw at the end of our time, Lisa Forget's daughter won a prize. And then we cleaned up and cleared off back to the hotel. I took one of the flower arrangements intending to bring it back home and some chocolates. I drove back with K, A and S.
I made some coffee for myself back at the hotel and read my book: The War With Hannibal by Livy. I relaxed and then met up with everyone in the lobby. At six-thirty we all went to the restaurant just down the street which was St. Jean Boulevarde. There was no parking. So poor Kevin just let us off and went out to find some. He was gone quite a while and Allison was a bit concerned. He parked across the street and finally came back. It was a great meal. Such big portions and so good. We all got to know each other better and I'll say it again. Musers are FABULOUS people. We each paid our own bills. Now the rest of them were going to see a comedy show but I bowed out. I wanted to make sure I got enough sleep. So I went back to the hotel. I must be really dumb right now but I can't remember the full name of the person who drove me. I know he's an author here and his first name is Richard, his wife is Cathy. He took Karen Cote and her husband back to their hotel, The Marriott and then we went back to our Holiday Inn. It was quite a ride, none of us knew Montreal that well so we went the wrong way so many times but made it home. Well, even if I don't remember his last name, I can say he's a great guy, as is his wife. He's ex-military so has interesting stories to tell. He had met a couple of Presidents of USA and many of the people you read about in the paper.
So I went to bad at the hotel and to bed. Had a great sleep. Breakfast again, I didn't drink much coffee again as David would come to get me at 10AM. It was sad to say good-bye to all but it felt so great having met them that it came out even, emotionally. I went and got my bags and waited downstairs. I got my deposit back and David rolled in about 10:06. It was a great weekend, it's only too bad I can't do justice to it in my blog but Lea will put the tape of the first dinner online. See ya all later.