I’ve been trying to write the Homeric Chronicles for years. It started as a short story about Odysseus and Penelope. That morphed into this “brilliant” idea (rolls eyes) of 4 novellas focused on the 4 major heroes: Achilles, Hektor, Paris, and Odysseus. In all this uncertainty, I was only certain that I had a story in there (somewhere) to tell that was different from anything out there. I loved the Iliad and Odyssey. As I wrote, I realized the stories overlapped (like puppies in a basket) and wouldn’t progress the way I wanted them to. That’s when it dawned on me that although the Iliad and Odyssey are easily placed in chronological order, the other myths that bleed into the larger framework do not. Crap. Mind. Blown. The story soon took on a life of its own, oozing all over my desk with sticky notes, scribblings on the backs of envelopes, printed articles, and a pin board. I labored like Herakles to construct a linear sequence that wove Homer’s tales together and THAT’S what pulled in dozens of characters I had no idea I’d be writing about. Then, something unexpected happened. I found myself writing more and more about the women. Giving them voice and filling out their storylines. When I was in the middle of working on book three, Rage of Queens, it struck me (TO MY HORROR, I might add)—I was doing it wrong. (The good, the bad, and the ugly of self-publishing).
Feeling like a complete idiot, I was confused how to proceed. I took a huge step back to reflect. Literally, stopped writing. I needed to sort through everything about indie publishing: Was I even a writer? Was I even a storyteller? Should I walk away now? Then, I did what I usually do when I don’t know what to do: clean or renovate my house. (Can anyone else relate to this?) As I stared at my bare concrete bedroom floors, I knew it was time to tile. Bent over the floor, back aching, knees on fire...NOTHING! and I mean nothing happened. No epiphany. No light bulb moment. #F-word again.
By accident, I stumbled onto Alesandra Torre’s marketing class and Mark Coker’s Smashwords podcast. I found the encouragement to NOT give up and that indie authorship is fluid and flexible. I began a podcast (Greek Mythology Retold) which gave me a platform to talk about my research and character development. This invigorated me. (As of today, I have almost 8000 downloads!) Anyway, I dove into the second edition of my first book, Song of Princes, in earnest. Although I’d deleted over 6000 words, I’d added 20,000 more in what ended up as 14 additional chapters and several subplots. The structure of SOP was still there, but it was more than a second edition. By this time, I knew the cover didn’t match an historical fantasy. It was time for some HUGE changes.
Regina Wamba created a new cover that captures everything about the Homeric Chronicles. The title became: Song of Sacrifice, because so many characters had sacrificed so many things: love, time, and relationships to survive.
I’m hard at work aligning Rise of Princes with its new cover design, too. Thank you for reading this whole thing, if you got this far. Song of Sacrifice is on preorder and as soon as I can get Rise of Princes out of KDP select (big mistake! very big mistake!), I’ll upload it everywhere book are sold.
Click over to listen to a podcast. If you love Greek Mythology, or my series, you might enjoy one or two of them. Oh Hades, listen to them all!
Sometimes people think being an historian is all about names and dates and politics, but it’s so much more. My favorite thing about studying ancient Greece is getting to a museum and looking at all the pottery. You get to see these beautiful works of art close up. Pictures just don't do justice to the sheer size of some of the pottery. My favorite place on the west coast to gaze at antiquities is the Getty Museum in Malibu, California. If you get a chance to go, you should. It's amazing not only for its art work, but because it's an actual replica of wealthy Roman villa complete with gardens and a giant pool.
While writing the Homeric Chronicles, I reference amphorae quite a bit because these vessels were commonly used to store wine, oil, and water much the way we use Tupperware. So, one vessel that intrigues me is the two handled amphora depicting Achilles and Ajax playing dice while trying to relax during the Trojan War. The vessel is from the Archaic Period (525-520 BCE).
I love this scene and decided to reference it in Rise of Princes, book two of the Homeric Chronicles. Playing dice humanizes the Greek heroes, making them reachable characters because they too needed reprieve from stress and bad days, as well as the grinding hardships of war. Enjoy the video :)
Start your journey with the Homeric Chronicles grab Song of Sacrifice today!
A generation before the Trojan War begins...
meet the royal families of Troy, Ithaka, Sparta, and Mycenae.
The Trojan War has turned into a bloody seige...
Achilles and Hektor rise to fame and glory.
Back in 2010, I started watching this little show on Starz called Spartacus. I love ancient Greek and Roman history, so it was a great fit. I was blown away by the story, the characters, and of course, became a huge fan. One of my favorite characters was: LUGO. A tough talking, rough and rugged Gaul with biceps and abs for armor. And somewhere along the line, I donated to a worthy cause and ended up SKYPE-ing with Barry. He was so down-to-earth and funny. Kind. It made me appreciate him as a person as well as an actor. Ladies (and gents) may I introduce... Barry Duffield!
1. Me: I read that you came to Australia from UK as a boy, and then settled in New Zealand. What was it like growing up in Australia? Is it really the rough romantic place we see in films?
Barry: We arrived in Brisbane in 1968 and it was already a pretty bustling metropolis, even so, it was still a culture shock for my family. Fast forward four years to 1972 and a move to Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory, and now we're talking about the real outback with nine of the deadliest varieties of Snakes on the planet, Estuarine Crocodiles up to twenty-feet long, and just as deadly Spiders [seriously, I just fainted] - Rough and romantic, hmmmm, only if your idea of romance is based in S & M. Despite its ability to kill you in any number of ways; I love Australia with a passion.
Me: I'm terrified of snakes, so I chose a little bit lighter side of Australia's deadly snakes...still, I squealed...
Me: 2. You travel quite a bit. You recently went to Rome and came to the states. What was Rome like after your experience as an “enemy of Rome” in Spartacus? And where are your favorite places in the USA? What do you like to do when you’re here?
Barry: America, Asia, Australia, Europe, only one more continent to go and we've done them all, and I'm far from over the wanderlust. If I suddenly got to a point in life where money was no object I'd keep traveling with Susie, until we'd done it all or died in the process of doing it all. My will would state: "Cremate me where I draw my last breath and spread my ashes in the ocean or the nearest lake."
Rome was fantastic! Walking into the Coliseum was like stepping back in time. Spartacus sparked my interest in ancient history, so it was like a pilgrimage going to Italy. Our amazing guide, Alex Marriotti, put it very well, "You have more in common with these people from two-thousand- years ago than you do with the pioneers of two-hundred-years ago."
We'll always have Paris! We were blessed with an invite to RS3 in Paris and met with the Euro-Spartacus fans. That was a great experience. Then, Susie and I got to celebrate our seventeenth wedding anniversary on the Eiffel Tower, so damn cool! It's an experience we hope to repeat at RS4.
Rebels SpartaCon and the USA; the con that kicked it all off and the meeting place of Barry and Beanie. For that alone I will be eternally grateful to our gracious host, Kelly. Rebels SpartaCon 3 is coming up in April, so I'd suggest getting your tickets for this event. The meet and greets are an absolute highlight for me. I can honestly say that I haven't seen enough of North America to make a call on a favorite place, but I would like to settle in San Diego in the near future and travel a lot more of a country I have such a strong affinity for. [We'd love to have you state-side!]
Me: I just love this picture :) Thanks for sharing it with us.
3. Okay, I mentioned the Starz Spartacus series. I have to tell you I’ve been a fan of that show since it began in 2010. I loved your character: Lugo. The ending! The tears! What was that like being a part of that show? How did you have to prepare for that role mentally and physically? Any funny moments you’d like to share? I see you’re going to the SpartaCon in MD!
First up: I hope to make the Rebels SpartaCon, but as far as I know, I haven't been confirmed yet. Lugo was such a great character and I'd love to have seen the writers grow him more, but it wasn't Lugocus, hmmmm, nice ring to that title though. [I loved Lugo's character! He was so ready to battle anyone!] There were too many funny moments to recall, but two words will suffice: "Dustin Clare." He was behind most of the pranks. As for preparation; I was already a manic gym bunny, but even that didn't prepare me for Alan Poppleton's Boot camp hell.
Me: 4. You’ve walked that red carpet. Tell us what that’s like? Is it nerve wracking? Fun? How do you prepare for that kind of live experience? Have you even met anyone on the red carpet you were star-struck by?
Barry: I don't do "star struck." I've met a lot of big name actors and it's always come down to an appreciation of the work they do. But first and foremost, it’s whether or not they are nice people. An asshole is an asshole; regardless of talent, right? I think I could handle shuffling down a few more of those red carpets, but Susie's not so keen. I could feel her shaking as I held her hand and she bolted as soon as the interviews started.
Me: 5. I saw you took your wife, Susie, with you on the Starz Red Carpet for Spartacus. You two look really happy together. What a sexy couple! How did she conquer that warrior heart of yours? How did you guys meet?
Barry: Surprise, surprise, we met in Les Mills gym in Auckland. It was in 96, just before I started at the South Seas Film and Television School. We went on one date together and we've been together ever since. She is my sun and my moon, my heart. She is the one voice I listen too and trust above all others. She's a warrior in her own right, so I guess it takes a warrior to conquer a warrior. [Swoon-worthy!!!]
Me: All those cameras clicking and people telling you "look here" or "look there"...you and Susie handled that with grace! And yes, we can see you holding her hand. A true romantic. Your fans also want you down many more red carpets, for damn sure!
Me: 6. Okay, now for the furry love of our life, Alfie. I love seeing you and your dog. How did you get Alfie? What made you a dog person? What’s the funniest Alfie story? Does he literally go everywhere with you?
Barry: I was a police dog trainer/handler in the Royal Australian Air-Force for thirteen years. I guess I chose that path because of my love of dogs. When my police dog, Boots, died at the age of thirteen I discovered the true meaning of grief. I was broken. I think this loss and a desire to pursue my childhood dream of being in the entertainment industry was the catalyst for leaving the RAAF.
Alfie came along by pure luck. My dear friend Robyn knew of my canine history and suggested I become a guardian for a Guide Dog breeder. We met with the Guide Dog’s rep, Helen, and passed the criteria and found ourselves with a hump happy Labrador. [Hahaha! I just got that...hump happy. Haha.] Having Alfie on set was a huge plus, but he did gain unwanted pounds with everyone feeding him. He's heading towards ten years old now and retired from his stud duties. [Based on your pictures, he looks like he's enjoying the good life. Hugs for Alfie :)]
Me: 7. Not only are you an actor, but also a writer. Recently, you’ve published Deadman’s Land and Tandoori Apocalypse: Bombay Rounding. What made you want to write a comic book/series? I just read DL. Loved it. It’s not like anything I’ve read before. What made you choose the werewolf/WWII combination? It’s like Game of Thrones when you don’t expect zombies, but there they are!
Barry: I trained in screenwriting at film school and I've been honing my craft ever since. Someone a lot smarter than I once said, "You'll write your first ten screenplays and they'll end up in the bin." They were so right. The Deadman's Land graphic novel is based in the screenplay of the same name. I entered it into the Final Draft Big Break and Scriptapalooza screenplay competitions in 2013 and 2014 where it reached the quarterfinals in both. After doing so well, I decided to have it adapted by Steve Stern Graphic Novel Adaptations, LA. Tandoori Apocalypse is a four part graphic novel. My new GN, Hellion Rising, is in the works right now. All of these titles are under the distribution banner of Comics'2'Movies in Melbourne, Australia. [If you dig WWII stories and werewolves and don't mind a little "blood and sand" ...pun entirely intended... you'll love this graphic novel! Grab a copy at Amazon.]
Me: 8. You also have a production company: Dreamchaser Productions. You’re definitely a busy man. I see you’re working on a Viking project, as well as Hellion Rising and Hard Out. What can you tell us about these new projects? Any sneak peaks?
Barry: Because of the stage of development they're in the answer would be; no. We don't talk about anything that isn't funded and as yet none of these are. I can say that I currently have two TV series pitches going through the process and should know one way or the other, by the end of March. I'm co-creator, co-producer, and writer, on both. [Damn :) I guess we'll have to wait...]
9. Do you have any special interests or talents outside of acting and writing? Obviously, you’re a weight lifter. How did you get started on that path? Do you train by yourself, or have a workout partner/routine? How was it training for Spartacus? How do you find the time to stay on schedule? Any other talents you can share?
Barry: I am a total geek cinephile when it comes to film. One of my first jobs was in the projection booth of my local cinema. I collect antique movie posters, lobby cards, and other memorabilia. I grew up racing Moto-X and Speedway, so put me on a bike and get out of the way! I have a keen interest in martial arts and a basic skill set at best. I love languages and I'm currently immersed in learning Italian. I'm a Scrabble fanatic. I'm also a keen water skier. I'm pro-gun and anti-gun laws, meaning, I don't think any private citizen has the need or right to own a fully automatic military grade weapon and screening should be paramount. I'm not a bad shot by any standard. I was a competition bodybuilder and now I just train to stay in shape and screen ready. I train better alone, but I have had a few training partners over the years.
Me: 10. Final question, and it’s down to your philosophy of life. When all else fades away, what is the only thing that’s real?
Barry: "Nothing is more important than the love you share and the friendships you forge." ~ Barry
Me: Thank you Barry for sharing about your work and family life. It was so much fun working on this project with you. I wish you and Susie and Alfie all the best. We love you! #barryduffield #lugoforever
Barry's Social Media Links
Nashville, Tennessee. What an experience. I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of so many wonderful authors and indie creators, and KT Webb was one of those lovely people. I've been following her social media platforms and she's got a lot going on...ladies and gents, KT Webb :)
1. So, your new romance series is set in Chicago. Tell us what you love about that city? Favorite places there...
I love the buildings. The last time I visited Chicago, I felt like I was at home just staring at the skyline. I also really enjoy Grant Park, and visiting Buckingham Fountain. [I have to agree with KT. Chicago looks like an amazing city!!! #chicago
2. Loved your blog on how writing is hard! What are your current struggles with your WIP? And what do you have planned this coming 2017?
Thank you! I think so many people think it's easy to just "sit down and write", but they really don't understand how much of yourself you pour into your books. My current WIP is The Last Coven: Awakening; the first book in my new series. I think the biggest struggle I've faced with this one so far is how to translate all my ideas and research into story form. I'm about 13,000 words into it, but I have to keep stopping and refocusing myself to make sure I am staying on track. [You go girl!! <3] In 2017, I plan to release the final novella in the Chicago Love Story collection, and the full-length novel featuring the couples from the novellas, The Last Coven: Awakening, and I also plan to release a stand alone fantasy.
3. You’ve been diligently recording your getting health journey. KUDOS! What keeps you motivated? Do you have any fitness inspirations? What are your healthy go to meals and snacks? And how do you find the time?
I've always struggled with my weight. My doctor had brought up the possibility of weight loss surgery a few years ago and I shot her down. After trying multiple different weight loss programs, I started doing some research. I finally talked to my doctor and made the decision to move forward with surgery. In July, I had the Gastric Sleeve procedure done and I don't regret it in the least. I have now lost 68lbs since beginning this journey. [Congrats!! That is an accomplishment :)]
My go to meals are different than most people would think because of the procedure I had. Protein is key to the success with this life change. My "go-to" is deli meat, deli cheese and crackers.
4. If you were stranded on an island for a month, who would you want to keep you company?
Do I just get one? If I only get one person, I think it would be my best friend, Madee. We always have a blast and I know I'd never get bored. [BFFs are the best thing since chocolate.]
5. What is your favorite classic book? And why did it become your favorite?
Jane Eyre. It actually became my favorite after I read the book The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I went back and re-read Jane Eyre and fell in love all over again. That Rochester..... [I am personally thanking you for making me look up this gif. Holy Cow!!!]
6. Do you have a favorite series on television? or film? Do tell.
Television series: Once Upon a Time and Supernatural.
Film: Pitch Perfect 1 & 2
7. How do you balance being a writer, work life and family?
I have learned to write while watching television, with children on my lap, on my lunch break...you name it, I have to be very flexible to make everything work. There are definitely days when I don't think I'm doing a very good job, but I wouldn't trade any of it for anything.
8. How would you describe your writing style? Your process?
I'm a reformed pantser. [Someone who writes by the seat of their pants.] I used to just sit down and write. Now, I write chapter summaries and put important notes on a cork board that hangs in my writing cave. I still write by the seat of my pants sometimes, I have to or my characters won't get to do their own thing.
9. What are you top three mythological/supernatural beasts/beings? [STOP!!... and pause for the loveliness of these creatures.]
10. At the end of all things, what’s the only thing that’s real?
Just kidding! Love (and maybe cake).
I went a little GIFY on this interview :) haha
The book tour began a couple weeks ago, so I started biting my nails. It's a nerve wracking thing to just put your work out there and then wait, hoping someone will like it. After your book is done is probably the hardest thing for indie writers. You've spent months on this narrative, spent money on the village that helps you get it looking good, you upload it to your platform (we mostly use Amazon, because who doesn't use Amazon these days) and wait some more. You get the congratulatory email from the virtual giant and your book baby is published. And you wait some more. Then you think, "How the f*ck does anyone even know I did this thing that ate up all my spare time when I could've been dating, or having cocktails, or singing karaoke on the beach in an over-sized sweater..." [Let's be honest, I did all that except the dating part. I can sum up everything I know about dating in my little pinky. ] My answer to this was: I NEED HELP!!!! So, I hired Nicole and Giselle. Nicole is a virtual assistant to writers and Giselle runs Xpresso Book Tours.
Nicole has helped me organize my random and wild thoughts. I start down some marketing hole and look back only to find, I've not written anything for a week and it's already the next week. She helps me keep it together. Giselle organizes the touring of book excerpts, reviews and giveaways. This has been great. I wanted to acknowledge these fine woman for their contribution to my indie author life and getting Song of Princes (re-titled Song of Sacrifice) out there in the blog-o-sphere.
The REVIEWS are IN...
Song of Princes (re-titled Song of Sacrifice) is doing fine... I've listed a few link below where you can check out who said what. And much thanks, by the way, to these dedicated blogger/reviewers. Because Amazon has changed it's policies up, most of the reviews are on individual sites and/or on Goodreads (it has a 4.26 rating as of 10/10/2016). If you really like Greek mythology, a little sex (okay a lot at times), romance, battle, you will like this series. I'm happily banging away at the computer keys half way through the second installment...65,000 words and counting.
Zaheerah of Book Reader and Reviewer said: "...What’s great about The Song of Princes is that it involves all the characters, rather than focusing on one. We see how one action of one character come to affect another and the events seam together effortlessly."
The Pursuit of Bookiness said: "...I am now a convert, hooked on this series and eagerly awaiting the next book. Written in a style that is easy to read while at the same time pulling you in to the story. A real page turner and a book I couldn't put down."
Married to Books Review and Blog said: "...Plenty of action, thrills and spills, the storytelling was very well portrayed in a world full of myths and legends. For action readers, lovers of Greek Mythology and historical fiction lovers, Song of Princes offers a rich, detailed story line into the lives of the Gods."
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile said: "Truth be told, I know that this is a series that many readers are going to love. I don't blame them one bit. It's tough to take something that's already a legend, and mold it to your own devices. Rhiannon has accomplished just that. Readers who love this kind of book, filled with fate and fortune, will likely fall in love with Song of Princes as well."
Liz Gavin said: "Being a huge fan of mythology in general – Greek, in particular – I started off Janell Rhiannon’s book with great expectations. Which she totally fulfilled and then some. As I said before, my standards regarding Troy were already quite high; but, Song of Princes knocked them into the stratosphere...Fast-paced story lines, poetically described settings, realistically developed characters. These are just a few examples of the book’s qualities. Mix them up with clever shifts of POVs and engaging dialogues, you’ll have an engrossing novel you cannot put down."
Fanatical Paranormal Romanitcal said: "I loved this book!!! ...I loved this book!!! After slogging through Homer’s “Odyssey” TWICE (once in high school and again in college), this is a much better telling of the ancient story. The author actually draws you into the story and makes you WANT to continue reading."
Taking It One Book at a Time said: "Any fan of Mythology, or Gods, will devour this book. Not only did the author provide you with a beautifully written fictional tale, she was able to intertwine facts elegantly within the story. There were no boring moments or lulls at any point during this story...in fact it was a whirlwind of excitement! Really quick, can we talk about how delicious this cover is too?? O-M-G! (I can only fantasize about what it looks like in person) Trust me when I say that the passion blasted all over this cover reflects throughout the book....and there isn't a speck of disappointment here."
Mama Reads said: "Rhiannon’s spin on these wild and exotic stories definitely nods to the commonly known tales while giving us an original epic fantasy with characters we can become wrapped up in and worlds full of wonders."
Thank you to all the bloggers and reviewers who took the time to check out the book, and also a huge level of gratitude to all the readers who bought it, borrowed it and read it as well!
If you enjoyed this post, give it a LIKE or a TWEET :) And by all means, SHARE :) If you'd like a heads up on future Big Ten Interviews or giveaways, join my email list. The only spam I like is with my eggs.
© Janell Rhiannon2016
Any information from this blog must be properly cited :)
Pretty and prolific in a tiara...
I can't remember when I started following and chatting with Cameo on Facebook...it's been a while. She has always been a positive voice in the writing world. She's approachable, funny, and #damndaniel is she a prolific writer! She recently went to PennedCon and won YA Author of the Year 2016! A huge congrats to you Cameo. So without further delay, here is Cameo:
1. You moved from Maui, Hawaii to Alaska. That is quite a move. What is it like in Alaska? Is it really like the movies...wildlife running around? How do you sleep when it's light? Or wake up when it's dark?
I did, and a lot of people ask me...WHY? I actually LOVE Alaska. The scenery is gorgeous and I feel like I can breathe here. Don't get me wrong, Maui is gorgeous as well, but I was getting rock fever. I mean, you can only travel around the island so much before it gets boring, and I spent most of my life there. Plus, it was hot all the time and there are no seasonal changes. That's one thing I love about Alaska. I love watching landscapes change with the seasons. We do get to see moose, squirrels, and the occasional porcupine squished on the road, but I still haven't seen a bear. That's a good thing, but one of these days I'd like to see one from a safe distance, and get a photo for proof! haha!! As far as sleeping, I have no problem. We have black-out curtains for the summer, and during the winter...well it's really hard to wake up.
2. I see you like the 1980s. What's the draw? What's your favorite movie and song from the 80s?
I was in middle and high school in the 80's. I did the whole break-dancing thing...or at least tried. I had the crazy hair and crazy clothes with accessories. I really don't like to look back at those pictures because I know I look completely ridiculous. As far as songs...gosh, there were so many good ones. I listened to a lot of Def Leppard. Guns N' Roses, Bon Jovi...etc.
3. You've got 2 really cool series: The Hidden Wings and After Light Saga. What inspired your vision of each world you created?
Well, thanks! I love both of those worlds. The Hidden Wings world was inspired after I wrote In My Dreams. I loved the idea of having guardian angels, and knew there were some that had a story to tell. I was surprised at how easy the world building was, and how loud the characters were. It seemed to flow for me. I really miss the characters now that the series is over, but I might go back and revisit them with a few spin-offs in the future.
As for the After Light Saga...my husband and I love to watch those survival and prepping shows, so I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could create a post-apocalyptic world with survivors. I wasn't expecting it to really go anywhere, but it's turned into something larger than I expected. It's been a lot of fun to write Abi's story, but the world building is a lot harder! Because there are scenarios, which could actually happen, I had to do a lot more research. I wanted suspense, but didn't want zombies, so I created the Arvy's - genetically mutated humans that survived the radiation, but are still smart. They also have a burning hatred for the survivors, who left them on the topside to suffer all those years. So now, those returning to the topside not only have to survive the planet, they have to survive the mutants who are dead set on killing them. [...like smart zombies!!! Holy crap!]
4. What are your writing rituals? You're a mom, too. How do you write and balance your family life?
Balancing writing and family is hard, but I always make sure that my family comes first...unless I'm on a deadline. Then everyone has to fend for themselves. haha!! I usually write at night, when everyone is quiet and asleep. I NEED my headphones on with music, and coffee and peppermints are a must! I don't know what it is, but they help. [She's a woman after my own heart! The coffee...]
5. OOH!!! You have a short film coming out based on ARV-3. I'm excited about this!! Tell us all about this project?
YES! Well, I was lucky to have a cousin who is married to an independent film-maker. (Timid Monster) After she read ARV-3 she told her husband that he should do something with it. It started with talks of creating a book trailer, but as it started progressing, it turned into something bigger. I was lucky to have been able to be a part of it. They're still working on perfecting the short-film, but I'm so excited to share it once it's finished!!! It's AWESOME!!!
6. What is it you like about the dystopian genre? Is there a message about humanity in there you'd like to share?
The dystopian genre is pretty oppressive, but also exciting. Because of the world we live in, survival shows have become a "thing". It's exciting to watch someone being thrown into a situation, with no food or water (and sometimes naked), and watch them survive. I try to instill hope and love into all of my stories. If we all stick together, helping each other, working through the differences while surviving, there is hope for a better future.
7. So, you've just begun writing your first contemporary romance. How's that going? How is writing this different from your usual genre work? Tell us all about it. Who are you collaborating with for the anthology?
Oh boy. I was scared at first because there is really nothing to hold up the story besides the romance and whatever revolves around that romance. Writing paranormal or sci-fi, you can do whatever you want with the world and it's okay. Like throwing in mutants, or angels, or demons, or scary made-up creatures. But as I started writing this contemporary romance, I began falling in love with the two main characters and their story. It's going to be part of the Love in the 80's Anthology.
Here is the info:
Love in the 80s: A New Adult Mix is a collection of ten contemporary romance, new adult, stand-alone novellas set in the 1980s. Written by award-winning and bestselling authors, one digital novella will be released on the last Friday of each month January - October in 2016.
The title of each love story will be a hit song from the year that the novella represents. The totally awesome authors include: Casey L. Bond, Lindy Zart, Cambria Hebert, Amber Lynn Natusch, Misty Provencher, Rebecca Yarros, Rachel Higginson, RK Ryals, Cameo Renae and Chelsea Fine.
Love in the 80s: A New Adult Mix was created by UTOPiAcon founder, Janet Wallace, and is co-produced with award-winning book cover designer, Regina Wamba (together they are WaWa Productions).
8. Who has influenced you as a writer? And if you could only have one book on a deserted island for a year, which book would it be?
I would have to say C.S. Lewis was my first huge influence. The Chronicles of Narnia swept me away into an imaginary world that I was lost in. I was with the children on all their adventures and never wanted it to end.
And...yikes! If I could have one book on a deserted island for a year, it would have to be something long that I haven't read yet. I have Stephen King's Under the Dome sitting on my shelf. It's huge, so I would probably take that.
9. Recently, you celebrated your 25 wedding anniversary. CONGRATS!! Can you tell us your "how we met" story? And what's the secret to love?
THANK YOU! Yeah, 25 years is a long time!!! We actually grew up in the same church together, but he was 11 years older than me. It's actually funny, because while I was in children's choir, he was the president of the sanctuary choir. It wasn't until I was a senior in high school that we connected. His sister took a few of us over to his house, and I remember thinking...HOLY CRAP, he's so handsome! Months later, he and another guy started a youth ministry at my Grandma's house. It was fate. It was pretty obvious I had a crush on him, and was later shocked that the feeling was mutual.Whenever I saw him, those crazy butterflies would go wild in my stomach, We would talk on the phone (a real phone) for hours. I remember falling asleep and waking up with him still on the other line. He'd say "good morning" before he left for work, and I couldn't wait until the end of each day to talk to him again.
We ended up eloping, which didn't go well with my family, but we made it work and now they LOVE him. I think the secret to staying love is making sure it's unconditional. Never take the other person for granted and never take things too seriously, because that's when things start to fall apart. Be silly. Laugh a lot. Make time for each other. Remind each other how much you love them, even if it's in the littlest ways. When I'm in the writing cave, on a deadline and tired, he'll sometimes bring me coffee or my favorite snack. My husband is my best friend and my biggest fan. We stay up late and watch movies together, talk about our future, and try and get through this crazy adventure called life. But through the trials and fires, and ups and downs, we both know that when all else fails...we still have each other.
10. At the end of all things, when light fades to darkness, what's the only thing that's real?
Love. It transforms and transcends. And knowing that you loved deeply, and were loved as deeply...makes it all worth it.
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In our modern American society, many Americans have a strange phobia about women baring a breast (and maybe a peak of a nipple) when it comes to breastfeeding. I personally find this a strange phenomenon. Breast feeding is the most NATURAL activity that a women can do with her boobs (okay, maybe it's also natural she hugs them when jumping up and down, or massages them after whipping her bra off...you get the picture). What are people afraid of when it comes to a mother breastfeeding her baby? Getting turned on? Maybe breasts, heavy with milk, are a magical food source luring unsuspecting citizens into lascivious behavior, infidelity and acts of random rudeness. And just maybe, people should get a frickin' grip on their overactive imaginations and prudish attitudes. Watch this undercover video of Americans supporting and freaking out about a woman "breastfeeding" a baby...
Since human beings began populating the earth, women have literally been pulling a bare breast out and nursing their young. And, sorry America, it's what breasts were designed to do. In fact, the earliest carved (per-historic) statue of a human is the Venus of Willendorf figure, a woman, dating from 30,000 and 25,000 BCE. She has pronounced breasts and hips, emphasizing her femininity, hence her power through the ability to give and maintain life.
What does all this have to do with mythology, Homer and the Homeric Chronicles? According to the 2015 article entitled, "Breastfeeding in the Course of History," in the Journal of Pediatrics & Neonatal Care [JPNC], "In Ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Greece, breastfeeding was of high value and one can find numerous references in mythology." And I agree with that based on what I've read in the Ilaid and Odyssey as well as other mythological and historical sources. In the ancient world, breast milk was considered sacred and nursing children was considered an essential and important part of a child's upbringing. The JPNC article delves into numerous examples of goddesses and women breastfeeding their babies. It's worth a read. The authors go on to talk about how only in the 20th century, when formula companies became en vogue, (and of course interested in making money) did the tide of public opinion against breastfeeding and mothers began to be and feel shamed by a natural and simple act.
Back to Homer and my point. One of my favorite scenes in the Iliad is when Hektor realizes he must face Achilles, and in doing so, most likely face his death. His father, King Priam, begs him not to go before the wall and fight the crazy Greek warrior. He laments that Zeus has cursed him because he's lost so many sons already, and now is poised to lose his eldest son and heir as well. Hektor's mother, Queen Hecuba joins her husband's lament and begs in a much more intimate way. In Book 21, she opens up her gown and pulls out her bare breast, weeping with the heart-ache she knows is coming, and begs Hektor to honor what she gave him from the beginning: life. By her bare breasts she beseeches her warrior son to give up fighting because that bond between mother and child is sacred, and worthy of honor. And it was her breast that symbolized that honor.
Throughout the Homeric Chronicles, Book One, Song of Princes I have used the motif of the breast and breastfeeding to symbolize the sacred connection between mother and child. It is an intimate and natural act. And when Hecuba is unable to nurse her second son, Paris, it breaks her heart. And that maternal pain is juxtaposed to the joy she felt with her first born, Hektor, and why she refuses a nursemaid for her subsequent children. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of adult level sexy bits in this series (steamy, I think
@Benjaminoftomes said) but I have purposely left the breast on a pedestal.
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