Chynna T. Laird is on the Hot Seat

Hi I have Author, Chynna T. Laird, on the Hot Seat

Janice: Tell us about yourself?

Chynna: Wow, let’s see…I’m a very busy mom of four children: three girls Jaimie (eight), Jordhan (six) and Sophie (two) and a beautiful little boy Xander (four). All of us live crowded together, along with my life partner Steve, in our tiny townhouse in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada).

When I’m not running around with my kiddos, I’m studying to complete my degree in psychology with a focus on special needs children and families.

Janice: Sounds like a lot of work. When did you start writing?

Chynna: I’ve always loved reading and books. Rumor has it that I started reading when I was two. My uncle was a distributor with Golden Books at that time so I used to get tons of his sample books and I eagerly devoured every one of them. I think that’s where my interest began in wanting to write stories like the ones I read.

Then in Grade Four a publisher came to our class to teach us all about the world of writing, editing and printing books. We even got to write our own books, with illustrations, and have them bound. My book was called, ‘The Tales of Super Bug’ a brave crime-fighting bug whose only fear was a size thirteen sneaker (sadly, that’s what caused his sudden demise).

Okay, so the cover was laminated construction paper and the ‘binding’ was staples but STILL! To me, that was the coolest thing in the world. After we’d ‘published’ our books, our class got to put them in the school library to be borrowed by fellow students. We were supposed to have taken them home at the end of the school year but I’d completely forgotten poor Super Bug on the last day of school.

Several years later, my younger sister came home from school waving a book she’d taken out of the library. She was SO excited to show me her book had MY name on it! It was SUPER BUG!! And there had been so many names listed inside of who’d taken it out over the years. That was my sign that writing was what I was meant to do.

Janice: That’s wonderful. What a thrill it must have been for you. Who was the biggest influence on your writing?

Chynna: I’d have to say my grandparents were my biggest influences. They believed so much in me and encouraged me to go as far as I could on whatever path I chose. I even named my writing business after them: Lily Wolf Words (Grandma’s name was Lillian and Grandpa’s was Wilfred.)

Janice: A very nice homage to your grandparents. How do you go about your writing? Do your prefer pencils to pens or is it all straight computer work?

Chynna: I do most of my work on the computer. It’s just a lot faster. But I do enjoy journaling. I have a notebook with me everywhere I go so I can jot down ideas for stories or articles wherever I am.

Janice: What influences you in your writing? Music, movies, reading, or straight research?

Chynna: Every day people and experience influence me the most in my writing. Especially those who have had to face tremendous adversity in their lives and show us how we can overcome the tough times thrown on our life’s journey. I’m also tremendously influenced and inspired by my children.

Two of my children, Jaimie and Xander, have special needs. They often struggle with the simple things the rest of us take for granted. They each inspire me every day as they teach me new ways of seeing the world, of doing things and learning about things. They are a wealth of writing ideas, let me tell you.

Janice: When do you write morning or evening, or are you a late into the wee hours of the morning person?

Chynna: I have to fit writing in around my children’s schedules (eg: picking up/taking them to school, homework, Jaimie and Xander’s sensory games and therapy, etc.). I have sprinklings of time throughout the day but I get most of my writing done in the evening after we (finally) get the kids in bed. I’m not really either a morning or night owl…I’m just a ‘Write until I’m so tired I’m not making sense anymore’ person. HA!

Janice: Who in charge you or your muse?

Chynna: Definitely my muse. I don’t seem to be able to shut the thoughts and ideas off! Hence the notebook. A good writer friend of mine told me she gets tons of story ideas and creates a separate folder for each as they come to her, complete with title and brief plot. She’s told me she has many, many folders to go back to! I’ve actually started doing the same thing as I go through notebooks like crazy!

Janice: Use only one word to describe your writing style? Or at least what you want your readers to take away from your writing.

Chynna: Emotionally-charged. (Is that two?) I’ve been told I elicit deep emotions from my writing. I often write about some tough issues in my work based on personal experiences. I’ve always thought this is the way to get people talking about these issues, especially those considered ‘taboo’ so we can learn about them, understand them and accept them.

Janice: What other books have you written?

Chynna: In addition to my YA book, ‘Blackbird Flies’, I’ve also authored an award-winning children’s book (I’m Not Weird, I Have SPD), two memoirs (the multi award-winning, Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD and White Elephants), and an adult Suspense/Thriller (The Gift to be released late 2011).

Janice: What influenced your recent book, the one you are promoting here today?

Chynna: Payton, the main character in my book, is loosely based on a few experiences I’ve had, only he’s a lot younger than I was during those experiences and he made better choices. I grew up with a mother who lived with bipolar that she refused to acknowledge or treat and she died due to maladaptive ways she chose to cope with her issues. Blackbird Flies is my way of discussing issues like mental illness, peer pressure, drug abuse, etc. in a non-threatening sort of way. People seem to be more wiling to talk about and learn about these issues when presented in a ficitional sense…at least that’s what I’ve found.

I’d love to see these issues become less ‘taboo’ so those going through them will feel better about needing, and seeking, the help they need to live their lives more effectively. I always say, “Through knowledge comes understanding.” If we’re willing to take in the information and absorb the knowledge, the understanding will follow.

The most important part about this book is that Payton shows us that kids can go through tremendous adversity and still come out okay. All they need is a positive distraction just that one person who believes in them. Payton’s distraction was his music and his grandparents believed in him.

Every one of us has the power to fly. We just need to allow ourselves to be carried.

Buy link: http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662245&mode=product&product=3028835

Blurb: Fifteen year-old Payton MacGregor is a musical prodigy. To him, though, his music is merely a way for him to escape from the chaos that surrounds him. All of his life, he’s had to care for his mother, who copes with her bipolar disorder with booze instead of turning to her own musical talents. He refuses to become a statistic. Then he’s thrown a curve ball.

His mother suddenly dies, leaving him to be cared for by his aging grandparents. As much as they love him, they decide to send him halfway across Canada to live with his father, Liam—the man Payton always believed abandoned him and his mother. Payton isn’t making the relocation easy on anyone until he finds out he’s going to attend the prestigious School of the Arts for musically gifted youth. Any second thoughts he has about his new life are erased when he meets Lily Joplin. Their connection is instantaneous.

Lily is a talented singer, but her struggles with drugs and bipolar disorder hit too close to home for Payton’s comfort. And when her issues become all-consuming, he wonders if his music will be enough to carry him through.

Excerpt: The following excerpt is taken from the part in the book where Payton begins to understand why he was really packed up and shipped off to Edmonton to live with his Dad—the man he’d believed had abandoned him as a child. This scene shows the anguish Payton is in and the love-hate emotions he carries around with him about his mother. It also shows his passion for his music—what he’s always turned to when times were toughest. We also feel his initial attraction to Lily, his romantic interest:

The Dean led Payton into the opera hall. “Your Dad told me you are a bit of a pianist.”

Payton resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “I guess you could say that.”

“Well, we haven’t moved the piano back to the music room yet since our recital last night,” the Dean said, nodding toward the stage. “Would you like to have a go?”

Payton’s gaze switched to the stage where a full black lacquered grand piano sat. Its lid opened towards him, exposing its gorgeous strings…beckoning him. It had been days since his fingers last caressed the keys of a piano. There was nothing that would have made him happier or given him more inner peace at that moment than to play his music.

He didn’t answer the dean . He just walked down the stairs to the stage. A spotlight still shone on the piano. It didn’t even matter to him that the leather seat was hot from the lights. He sat down, pushed the seat back to account for his long legs and positioned his hands over the keys. He closed his eyes.

He played Chopin’s Nocturne—one of his favorites. He’d learned it completely by ear, listening to his mother play it. She’d played the piece with such emotion, it pained his heart. He wished the music flowed half as beautifully from his own fingers as it had
through hers.

As a young boy, he liked lying under the piano bench while his Mom practiced. When she’d gotten really into her playing, the bench shook in time with her hands flying across the keyboard and her tiny feet pumping the pedals. Being only five feet tall, she’d often had to sit right on the edge of the piano seat so the pedals wouldn’t snap back up.

When Payton struck the last chord, the notes lingered high above the auditorium stage, echoing for several seconds. Then silence. Payton removed his glasses and wiped his eyes on his sleeve then heard…applause? It wasn’t just his dad and the dean.

He put his glasses back on and squinted, trying to block the glare from the lights with his hand. A small group of students had sat down in the first couple of rows while he’d been playing. He was embarrassed at first, but when he stood, the students rose, cheering, “Bravo! Awesome!”

He fidgeted for a few seconds then shot a peace sign and walked off the stage. Walking back up to where his dad and the dean stood, he saw that girl again…the one that looked like Alicia Silverstone. He got a closer look at her. Even in the dim light, he saw her face perfectly. Her hair was all one length and ebony. It draped around her shoulders, hugging her gorgeous oval-­shaped face. Her dark emerald eyes were highlighted with perfectly sculpted eyebrows and long eyelashes—the same darkness as her hair. Her creamy skin looked like the sun had never touched it. Her pink, plump lips stretched into a half-­smile when she noticed him staring at her. She gave him a thumbs-­up.

He just hoped his mouth wasn’t open.

“Son, that was incredible,” Dean Fenehey said. “You’ll definitely be an inspiration to other people here. And you can almost bet if you keep up your practicing you’ll get that
scholarship.”

Practicing? Scholarship? What the…?

Elaine Cantrell is in the Hot Seat

Hi, I have Elaine Cantrell in the Hot Seat.

Janice: Tell us about yourself?

Elaine: I’d be delighted to! I’m a Southern girl, born and raised in upstate South Carolina. I say ya’ll, which is always plural, and I like grits. I graduated from Clemson University with a BA in secondary education and went back for a Master’s degree in personnel services. I’m a member of Alpha Delta, Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators, Romance Writer’s of America, and EPIC Authors. My second novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published by Oak Tree Books in 2004. I’m still teaching social studies at our local high school, and in my spare time, if there is any, I like to read, play with my grandchildren, and collect vintage Christmas ornaments. You can see my vintage collection in my Facebook photos at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=10000015304148

Janice: When did you start writing?

Elaine: LOL. That’s an interesting question. I started writing because of my son. He came home one day in late 2001and told me he had written a book. Who can describe the pleasure and pride in a mother’s heart at that moment? He told me he had always made up stories in his head to amuse himself, so he thought he might as well write them down. After I picked myself up off the floor, I told him that I had always done the same thing, so I sat myself down at my computer to see if I could write. I bet I stared at that blank screen for ten minutes before I remembered that I had a delete key, and if I didn’t like what I wrote I could start over. Since that time I’ve never looked back. I write now because it’s a compulsion. I’ve even been known to take my computer with me on vacation.

Janice: Who was the biggest influence on your writing?

Elaine: People who’ve read my books compare my style to Danielle Steele and Elizabeth Peters, but I started reading when I was just a little girl, and I’m sure all the authors I read as a child left their mark on me. Louisa May Alcott was one of my favorites, and I think I picked up some wisdom about life there. I was crazy about horses so I read Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books. From them I picked up some ideas for action/adventure plots. I also loved the Anne of Green Gables books. They’re so well done!

Janice: How do you go about your writing? Do your prefer pencils to pens or is it all straight computer work?

Elaine: Gotta have my computer. I have written things out by hand, but the minute I started typing on the computer I changed almost everything I had written. Maybe it’s the backspace key. That’s a really useful thing!

Janice: What influences you in your writing?

Elaine: Music, movies, reading, or straight research? I’d have to say that the biggest influence is probably reading. I’ve often read a book and started to wonder how things would have been different if the author had changed this or that. I once read a book on secret codes in World War II, and while I was taking a shower that evening I started to think about the code, and before you know I had the plot for a sequel to Return Engagement.

Janice: When do you write morning or evening, or are you a late into the wee hours of the morning person?

Elaine: My very best work is done in the morning before my mind gets stressed and cluttered with routine things. Ideas pop into my head with ease, but not so much so later on in the day.

Janice: Who in charge you or your muse?

Elaine: My Muse! I try to make her behave, but she won’t have any of it. She pushes me around and makes me change things all the time. She’s fickle too. At the times I need her the most she deserts me and leaves me to blunder around on my own.

Janice: Use only one word to describe your writing style? Or at least what you want your readers to take away from your writing.

Elaine: Thrilling is a good word to describe it. I want readers to be so thrilled with my work that they’re sorry they’ve finished the book. I want them to sigh and send me an email telling me to hurry up with the next book.

Janice: What other books have you written?

Elaine: Return Engagement
Genre: contemporary romance
Title: Return Engagement
Author: Elaine Cantrell
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Buy Link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=819
Author Website: http://www.elainecantrell.com
ISBN:978-1-60313-999-1
Format: print and ebook

A New Leaf
Genre: contemporary romance
Heat rating: PG13
Title: A New Leaf
Author: Elaine Cantrell
Publisher: Oak Tree Press
Buy link: http://www.oaktreebooks.com
Author website: http://www.elainecantrell.com
ISBN: 1-892343-36-3
Format: print and ebook

Grandfather’s Legacy
Genre: Contemporary romance
Heat Rating: PG13
Title: Grandfather’s Legacy
Author: Elaine Cantrell
Publisher: All Romance Books
Buy Link: due to the death of the publisher the book is only available from the author at elainecsc@aol.com
Author Website: http://www.elainecantrell.com
ISBN: 1-933548-02-9
Format: ebook PDF

Purple Heart
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Heat rating: G
Title Purple Heart
Author: Elaine Cantrell
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Buy Link: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/purple-heart-p-404.html
Author Web site: http://www.elainecantrell.com
ISBN: print 1-60154-133-3
Format: print and ebook-Adobe, MS Reader, Web Html

The Welcome Inn
Genre: Romantic suspense
Heat Rating: R
Title: The Welcome Inn
Author: Elaine Cantrell
Publisher: Wings ePress
Buy link: http://www.wingsepress.com/Bookstore/The%20Welcome%20Inn.htm
Author website: http://www.elainecantrell.com
ISBN: print ISBN 978-1-59705-776-9; ebook ISBN 978-1-59705-252-8
Book format: print and ebook-PDF, HTML, MSR, Mobipocket

Janice: What influenced your recent book, the one you are promoting here today?

Elaine: My latest release is Return Engagement, and the book was written to showcase my ideal hero. I noticed that most of my heroes had certain traits in common, so I compiled all of them and came up with Richard Lovinggood. Besides showcasing my ideal hero, Return Engagement explores the topic of ‘what if’. I bet there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t wondered how their life would be different if they had made different choices. In Return Engagement my characters fall in love when they’re both pretty young, but his father is a powerful senator who doesn’t think Elizabeth is good enough for his son. He breaks them up. Ten years later they meet by accident on a California beach, and man do the fireworks begin! Richard and Elizabeth won’t waste a second chance to find happiness. Here’s a blurb and excerpt from Return Engagement.

Return Engagement by Elaine Cantrell

Blurb:

Elizabeth Lane has it all, but an actress isn’t the kind of woman Senator Henry Lovinggood wants for his son, Richard. Ten years ago he broke Richard and Elizabeth up, but this time Elizabeth’s fighting back, a decision that leads to kidnapping and attempted murder and alienates her from the man of her dreams.

Excerpt: In this excerpt, Richard and Elizabeth have just spend the night together. Richard is totally blissed out, but Elizabeth is conflicted to say the least because Alex, the man she’s thinking about, is her fiancé.

A trace of fear briefly contorted her face. He seems as
headstrong and stubborn today as he was ten years ago. Frankly, I
have no idea if I’ll be able to handle him or not. I wish we’d clarified
his position on my acting before we said I do.

When he held her and kissed her as he had done last
night, all doubts flew from her mind, but it was morning
now, and she had to start a new life, a life without Alex, the
man who’d supported her emotionally for three years now.
Searing pain stabbed her. Surely this betrayal said something
bad about her character!

Resolutely, she squared her shoulders. Today they’d
have that conversation Richard wanted. Today she’d make
him talk about what they should have talked about the night
before. Hopefully, they’d have similar expectations of marriage
which would minimize the conflicts between them.

She decided to shower and start breakfast for him. She
couldn’t help smiling as thoughts of Alex faded. She was acting
very much like a new bride who wanted to take care of
her man. She eased out of bed and took her robe from the
closet but paused before leaving the bedroom.

Yes, she’d acted impulsively and so had he, but she loved
him to distraction! The fates had given her a second chance to
get her heart’s desire; why worry about things that would
probably never be an issue anyway? They’d work things out.
We’ll have to because in the space of one evening I’ve found my missing
half.

She tossed her robe across a delicate gilded bench and
stared at herself in the full length mirror on the wall behind
the tub. He had held her naked body against his and plunged
himself inside her with an abandon that took her breath away!
She still didn’t see why he thought she was so beautiful. But
it’s enough that he does.

Return Engagement by Elaine Cantrell

If you like the sound of Return Engagement, you can read the entire first chapter at http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=819
You can also buy a copy at this address.

Elaine: Janice, thank you so much for having me.

Janice: Your very welcome. It was great having you here.

Lux Zakari is on my hot seat

Come on in. You’re just in time. I’vjust put LUX ZAKARI onto my hot seat. Bawawawa-hahaha.

 


 

 

Janice: So tell us about yourself, Lux.

Lux: I write all my dirty stories in northeast PA while getting my master’s in library science. My short stories, poetry and reviews have appeared in anthologies, such as Best Women’s Erotica 2009, Racy Pages’ Surprise and Best Bondage Erotica 2011, and the websites Clean Sheets, Oysters & Chocolate, My erotic novel, Coercion, was released in August 2011 by Lyrical Press, Inc.

Janice: Very interesting. When did you start writing?

Lux: I’ve been writing since I was a kid; I’ve always found that writing was the best, most vivid, most accurate way I could express all the ideas rattling around in my head. I was writing before I could even write; I would color in notebooks and tell myself the story out loud while I drew, and I’d dictate some stories to my grandmother, and she’d write them down for me.

Janice: Sounds like your grandmother had a lot to do with your early writing. Who was the biggest influence on your writing?

Lux: Everyone I know influences me to some degree, especially those who are closest to me, but one memory that sticks out is that of my first-grade teacher. Back then, I was given a vinyl diary covered in little hearts, and it was so beautiful it made me want to write important things inside it. I wrote a few stories in it—nothing more than a few sentences—and had illustrations to go with them, and at recess one day, I asked my teacher if she wanted to hear them. She said she didn’t have time, but I sat atop a desk and just started reading them aloud anyway. That piqued the interest of some kids who’d been inside for recess, as well as my teacher, who encouraged me to keep at it and gave me a flowered planner to write more stories in. In that I wrote about two friends, Bird and Kitty, and my teacher would let me read these stories in front of the class if there was some free time, and everyone would applaud and I got such a kick out of it. I admired the chutzpah I had then!

Janice: That’s wonderful to get such encouragement at such an early age.

 

How do you go about your writing? Do your prefer pencils to pens or is it all straight computer work?

Lux: I mostly work on a computer; it’s easier to organize my thoughts that way and make corrections. Plus, my handwriting is an abomination. But there’s something very effective about scribbling down the basic framework for a story by hand. That’s how I write scenes I have trouble writing on the computer, which can be intimidating in suggesting that whatever’s on screen must be polished and perfect. Writing by hand just gets those words out of my system once and for all.

Janice: What influences you in your writing? Music, movies, reading, or straight research?

Lux: Anything can provide inspiration. Sometimes I’ll just be wandering along and a sentence will spring into my head. I have to bring a notebook when I hang out with my friends because they’re so quotable. The way other writers phrase certain things in their own works can be very inspiring. Mostly, I think the all-encompassing answer of “living” is the best way to gain inspiration.

Janice: So true.

 

When do you write morning or evening, or are you a late into the wee hours of the morning person?

Lux: A few weeks ago, I started writing a story skeleton on the back of a receipt when I was at a park, awaiting my turn to suck at tennis. That’s an example of how I sneak writing in whenever and wherever I can, but I usually have to be away from home to do it—too many distractions.

Janice: Lol, I suck at tennis too.

 

Who’s in charge: you or your muse?

Lux: We work together; we need each other. But my muse is awesome at making me feel guilty if I’m not writing or at least doing something creative.

Janice: What do you want your readers to take away from your writing?

Lux: That happy endings and brighter futures are possible, no matter how flawed people are.

Janice: What other books have you written?

Lux: Coercion is my first novel, but I have several projects in the works. I’ve just finished revising a new novel—a racy, unconventional love story about a self-absorbed, hedonistic ex-celebrity who, upon the death of her former lover, learns she’ s been inexplicably named the guardian of his three children. Being herded into the parental role forces the protagonist to finally face the truth about the cruel decisions of her wild past, her now uncertain future and her secret, turbulent relationship with a man who, even in death, continues to upend her world. Here’s hoping the story has a successful future!

Janice: What influenced your recent book, the one you are promoting here today?

I actually wrote a blog post called “How to Write Coercion” (http://luxzakari.com/2010/10/20/how-to-write-coercion/), which is a tongue-in-cheek look at the ideas and circumstances that went into me creating that story. But the concise answer is that Coercion is the result of just too many dirty thoughts!

 

Buy Link: http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2_12&products_id=315

 

Blurb:

Introverted and insecure Valerie Mercer was promised that during her senior year of college she would finally attract attention from boys…but never dreamed that would include Michael Vartanian.

Good looking, troubled and every parent’s nightmare, Michael is adamant on introducing Valerie to a world of both pleasure and, inadvertently, heartbreak. His interest in Valerie is dependent upon the mood and fidelity of his on-and-off-again girlfriend, Breeze.

Nevertheless, Valerie lets her hope and desire override common sense and soon finds she can’ t deny Michael anything…no matter what’ s at stake.

 

 

Excerpt:

Valerie refused to entertain thoughts Michael might ever be interested in her, especially since she didn’t know what she’ d do if she had him. She knew of Kim Breza—better known as Breeze—and couldn’t think of two people more different than her and the popular, talkative blonde, whose sexual appetite was no secret. She had heard Breeze broadcast her erotic escapades in the women’ s bathroom, the hallway and just about everywhere else. Thus, Valerie knew Michael and his girlfriend had done practically everything under the sun during their on-again, off-again yet somehow enduring relationship.

That knowledge both excited and terrified her. Virginity, which was something her peers had outgrown long ago, was not something she wanted to give to just anyone. Therefore, she could never keep up with Michael.

But a little part of her wanted to try. A little part of her wanted to have the courage to find out how those lips of his tasted. A little part of her wanted to slide her hands down his broad back and into the back pockets of his jeans.

A little part of her wanted to do a whole lot to Michael Vartanian.

 

 

A racier excerpt can be found at http://www.theeroticwoman.com/erotica/coercion.

 

For details about Lux Zakari, visit www.luxzakari.com.