Upcoming Release

I recently completed the rough draft of Prodigy, Book 2 in the Shapeshifter Chronicles and am currently going though the editing process. I am very excited to share with my readers Chance and Ana’s new adventures. It should provide plenty of excitement and answer some of  those pesky questions…but of course, leave you with a few as well.

At this point I have plans for four books in the series, with the possibility of more. After the release of Prodigy I will put my attention to finishing another book that was shelved so I could deliver the second book in the Shapeshifter Chronicles.  It is a middle grade adventure series titled, The Novel Adventures of Nimrod Vale. More to come on that as I get closer to completing it.

Thank you for all the reading support!

 

Interview with Author Amy Manneman

I am late posting this, but  here is an interview I gave my friend, and author, Amy Manneman (The Deadly series).

Where are you originally from?

I am from a small town in Northern California named Nevada City. Tall evergreens, rolling mountains and fresh air, it’s my favorite place to visit. I used to walk down the road from my house and go blackberry picking for blackberry ice cream in the summer. Mmmmm.

 

What inspired you to become a writer?

Other writers are my inspiration. There is nothing more magical than being transported into another person’s life. I love experiencing another time and circumstance. It still amazes me how joy, fear or passion, are easily transferred from prose. I have always enjoyed writing, but my inspiration has come from authors and writers who force me to forget the laundry, making dinner or doing my work just to read one more chapter. I strive to do that for my own readers.

 

How did you decide on your book’s genre?

I absolutely love reading fantasy & romance. In the last ten years or so, the young adult genre has created a huge following. I love reading all of the above, so it was natural for me to combine them, when creating my new series.

 

What is/are your favorite genre(s)?

Growing up, I was never without a book. I am an only child, so they were the perfect companion. I’ve gone through different phases, as a young child my parents read The Hobbit to me in bed. Some of my favorite book related memories are begging my mom and dad to keep reading. Then as a teen I discovered classic romance novels by Austen, Bronte and Fitzgerald. When I moved out of my childhood home, I couldn’t put down fantasy and sci-fi novels. Now it has progressed into young adult and middle grade fantasy. I can’t turn down a good urban fantasy that has great character development, action and romance.

 

Are you currently reading anything?

Because I am a busy mother, writer and web/design contractor, I haven’t had the opportunity to start a book for myself recently, but I am in the middle of reading one of the Sister’s Grimm books to my kids. It’s a fun, and imaginative middle grade book, which entices imaginative minds.

 

Who or what is the driving force that keeps you going?

The excitement for my story keeps me moving. I love my characters and their world, so my passion for them is what keeps me writing.

 

How do you balance your personal life with your writing career?

I wish I could say I was a full time writer, but I’m not. The reality is, I’m a busy mother, vice-president of the PTA, a web developer and designer. These elements keep me very occupied, but I try to carve out time in my days to write. While I write this interview, I am waiting for some muffins to finish in the oven for my daughter, who is home sick. It is a tricky balance, but I do my best.

 

Tell us about your book.

Fledgling is the first book in a series called, The Shapeshifter Chronicles. It is a young adult urban fantasy or I suppose it can be classified as a paranormal romance as well.

 

Set apart from other eighteen year olds, Ana Hughes knows she is different. A life threatening heart condition smothers her future and she yearns to feel normal. Her hopes are pinned on a fresh start in a remote town far from her native Colorado. Among the locker filled hallways in Clark Bend High, Ana keeps to the shadows, not wanting to draw attention to her violet tinged lips and wilted silhouette. And she almost succeeds, until she meets Chance Morgan.

Struggling to keep up appearances, she soon suspects Chance is hiding something as well. His animal-like senses, miraculous healing ability and peculiar reaction to her Thunderbird necklace compels Ana to question if there’s more to the stories about his Navajo ancestry. Without any other explanation, she fears he is playing tricks on her. But the truth may prove too much for Ana’s delicate heart…

 

How do you create your characters?

My own daughter inspired this books lead protagonist, Ana. My daughter was born with heart defects and my characters were created with that theme in mind. I think readers relate better to people who are imperfect. Creating a multi-faceted character is important when you want the reader to care about who is on the page. It is a fun challenge that I enjoy.

 

Do you have any upcoming events or book promotions?

I recently added a lost chapter to my website- www.theshapeshifterchronicles.com for readers who have downloaded my book from Amazon. There is a special code at the back of the book, which unlocks the chapter, The Prom.

 

Where can people find you and your work on the web?

I currently have it listed on Amazon- http://www.amazon.com/Fledgling-The-Shapeshifter-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B006XM426C/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1329929624&sr=8-3

 

Interview with Author Aaron M Ritchey

I had the pleasure of talking with Aaron M Ritchey, author of The Never Prayer, a couple weeks back. My thanks go out to him and his generosity –

I Talk Heart of Darkness and Fledgling Shapeshifters With YA Author Natasha Brown

Writers can pop up literally anywhere. In your shower, late at night. Hotel rooms in bad parts of town. Kathmandu, Nepal. We are an elusive breed, shadowy, here one minute, gone the next. So was I surprised to find that a writer was haunting the halls of the Montessori school where my children go? Not in a horribly-scarred-phantom-of-the-opera type of way. Natasha Brown was just a parent, but so much more. I wasn’t surprised that Natasha had written a book, but I was impressed by her really good Amazon ranking. And the fact she finaled in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Gold contest. And that she had gone rogue, e-pubbed, and was doing well.

A little about her book, Fledgling (The Shapeshifter Chronicles):

Set apart from other eighteen-year-olds, Ana Hughes knows she is different. A life-threatening heart condition smothers her future and she yearns to feel normal. Her hopes are pinned on a fresh start in a remote town far from her native Colorado. Among the locker-filled hallways in Clark Bend High, Ana keeps to the shadows, not wanting to draw attention to her violet-tinged lips and wilted silhouette. And she almost succeeds, until she meets Chance Morgan.
Struggling to keep up appearances, she soon suspects Chance is hiding something as well. His animal-like senses, miraculous healing ability and peculiar reaction to her Thunderbird necklace compel Ana to question if there’s more to the stories about his Navajo ancestry. Without any other explanation, she fears he is playing tricks on her. But the truth may prove too much for Ana’s delicate heart…

We talked, and this is a little of what we talked about.

AARON: Okay, Natasha, at what point in your life did you want to write a novel? Where were you, what were you drinking, and were olives involved?

Natasha: It was the perfect storm – inspiration, courage and my family left me alone for a whole glorious weekend. I do love olives, but alas, they weren’t involved.

AARON: When we talked, you said you were inspired by J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer. What about them inspired you? Haircuts? Choice of shoes? Mormonism? Britishism?

Natasha: They inspired me because they, like me, were mothers with an idea. An idea that they wrote down and had the tenacity to persist with. I thought if they could do it, then I would try as well.

AARON: Let me talk about myself for a minute, because, well, I am so very fascinating. I’m a big fan of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which inspired the movie Apocalypse Now. Kurtz, in the jungle, going mad, worshiped by the natives. He went rogue, just like you. What made you throw off the shackles of traditional publishing to set yourself up in your jungle paradise on Amazon?

Natasha: Let me smear some war paint on my face first before I answer…
Like you mentioned earlier I finaled in the RMFW contest, which was fantastic. It gave me the confidence to start querying agents. I had a few nibbles, but ultimately it led to a dead-end. And then life happened. When you are busy with kids and work, those other things fall away, and that is what happened to FLEDGLING. Until an acquaintance found out I had a finished novel collecting dust. He had self-published and found great success. I decided, what with the state of the evolving book world, I would go ahead and give it a try myself. I am a web developer and designer so I designed my own cover. I set the hook and waited for a nibble.

AARON: Kurtz summarized his experience in the jungle with four words, well, two words repeated twice: the horror, the horror. What two words, repeated twice, summarize your experience as an independent publisher?

Natasha: Two words is all? Yeesh. Take courage, take courage.

AARON: Why do you think your Amazon ranking is so good? My ranking is like three million and fluctuates as low as eight billion, but you, you have a ranking, a steady ranking, in the thousands, which is awesome. Did I just use way too many commas? Maybe. I’m a little nervous asking this question. I’m pausing a lot.

Natasha: I stole some fairy dust and sprinkled my computer with it. Does wonders, although whenever I click my mouse, it giggles. No, seriously. I am lucky. There are SO many elements that contribute to a book doing well. Past the obvious, that the book has to be somewhat interesting and in a genre that sells, there is a lot to marketing a book. A good cover and book blurb are very important – they are the first impression. You need to be present in social media like, facebook, twitter and your own author blog. I am part of a great author group named the World Literary Café (WLC- www.worldliterarycafe.com) which provides many resources to indie and traditional authors. I couldn’t have made it this far without my new group of friends.

AARON: One of your inspirations for Fledgling was your daughter’s heart condition. What kind of heart condition does she have, and how does that play into the novel?

Natasha: The heart issues are a huge issue in the story and everything revolves around it, much like in real life. My daughter was born with multiple heart defects. She had transposition of the great arteries, hypoplastic-left heart syndrome, and a large ventricular septal defect. That might sound like a lot of gibberish to most people, but all of those conditions caused enough trouble for my daughter to have two open-heart surgeries. Heart defects make up about a third of all children born with birth defects. My daughter is not alone. The personality and specific circumstances of my daughter are not the same as the lead character in my book, but they do share many of the same experiences. I wanted to create a female lead who could be a heroine for my daughter to look up to. For anyone who was born with heart defects.

AARON: We talked about how hard the writer’s journey is. What themes in Fledgling could inspire a struggling writer to keep on keeping on?

Natasha: A writer’s journey can be tortured to be sure, but it is so much broader than that. Being a teenager has its challenges as well, and I think they are much the same. Will they like me? Will I fit in? Stand out? I’m not good enough.

Self-doubt and insecurities plague everyone. Especially writers. FLEDGLING, I hope, will leave the reader uplifted and hopeful. My own story, and even my daughter’s story, I hope, will inspire as well. You CAN do it if you persevere.

AARON: Natasha, if you had to exchange your writer’s life for another artistic passion, what would you choose? For example, if I had to give up writing for some other type of creative art, I wouldn’t choose rockstar or famous Parisian painter, I’d choose quilting. Dudes who quilt are dead sexy. What about you?

Natasha: Dead sexy to be sure…I think you even have another book idea in there.
My father is a fine art photographer (and in another life, a graphic artist) and my mother does poetry. Artistry is in my blood. I have dabbled with quilting, stained glass, painting, photography, jewelry making and graphic design. I’m not sure what else I could try, but I’m only happy when I am creating something. I wouldn’t mind hanging in Italy, the country where I got engaged, and just ‘go with the flow’.

AARON: Thanks Natasha!

Natasha: And thank you, Aaron!

Website for the book
Natasha on twitter
Fledgling on Amazon

A Land Where Love Stories Are Made

I was pleased to write a guest post for Lost in Fiction UK’s, Lost in Romance for the month of February.

For my twenty-first birthday, my boyfriend and I were gifted a trip to Italy. My grandmother, who had until then only given me underwear and socks, surprised me with tickets to Italy. Our flight from California was long, and felt like we had lapped the sun twice (or maybe more). We were so used to flying, by the time we landed in Milan, our stomachs kept moving. Eager to get off the most expensive amusement ride I’d ever been on, I was ready to go to our hotel and unwind. However, getting there was half the battle. Imagine driving on a racetrack, but instead you’re surrounded with miniature cars zooming past you like they have nitrous tanks strapped to their undercarriage. The assumption was, if there were three lanes, then there must be room for four, and if you didn’t drive fast enough, well, we discovered that lewd hand gestures are the same no matter where you are in the world.

After we checked into our hotel, we went to a café around the corner to eat. Walking seemed safer than driving. We sat down and I ordered some kind of pasta. It looked simple; basil, tomatoes and noodles.

Let me tell you, what we call food in America is only shaped like it, giving the illusion of food. You have never really tasted it, until you have been to Italy. Every ingredient is respected so much, you aren’t allowed to touch the produce at the store—you must wear gloves. They understand that the beginning of life starts with a wholesome seed, not a GMO seed hopped up on pesticides. It is allowed to grow, mature and ripen. I have yet to eat anything that compares to my first bite in Milan.

It was only late October, but the Alps provided a cold nip to the air, which plummeted into frigid temperatures. We were completely unprepared. The nice clothing boutiques were priced beyond our shoestring budget, and with some luck, we found the only thrift shop in Italy. I walked out looking twenty pounds heavier, with three shirts poking out from under my new, used sweater. I was in stark contrast next to the Italian woman parading down the cobbled streets in their leather boots, tight pants, fur coats and strollers.

We stayed in medieval castles, which were beautiful; they reminded me of the period romances I read and loved. They rose like ancient stone pillars on the landscape, with rows of orderly grapevines raking the rolling hills around them. Shakespeare neglected to mention how cold it was living in a stone box. We were told the “national heat” hadn’t been switched on yet. I didn’t know what they were talking about, but I sure hoped it wasn’t a practical joke.

Try as it might, the rustic Italian sweater couldn’t protect me from getting sick, and with only one week left in our trip, I noticed a change in attitude in my loving companion. I assumed he was frustrated with getting dragged down by a runny-nosed killjoy. We couldn’t let my sickness stop us from exploring, so we bypassed Venice and took a water taxi to Murano and Burano, two floating cities known for their crystal and lace. Walking past each home and business was like passing through a rainbow. Bright and colorful, despite the gray gloom that blew down from the Alps, freezing a half smile and grimace on my face. We wandered through a park and my love encouraged me to scale a fence with him into a small vineyard. I may be a romantic, but I’m not a “scale the fence” type of girl.

Days later, he heard of a lovely old mansion just outside of Montegrotto Terme, rumored to have beautifully manicured grounds, so we drove out to visit, successfully avoiding any lewd hand gestures from irritated farmers in Fiats. He wrapped me up in a blanket to keep me warm—I looked like a fuzzy ghost with a cold. It took us nearly an hour to find our way through a large hedge maze, taking every wrong turn. Discovering we weren’t the only ones to get trapped in the maze, we slipped through some worn openings in the shrubs to find our way to a set of stairs. Rising above the hedgerow, a stone platform wrapped with a gazebo allowed us to overlook the puzzling pathways we had just escaped.

There, he sat me down with a serious gleam in his eye, and I knew. I knew what was about to happen. Honestly, I don’t really remember what he said to me. It was not the words that were important, but the moment, and the moments leading up to it. I knew then why he had been so anxious as the trip neared an end.

The Country of Love couldn’t let us leave without giving us a story. Our own love story. The birthplace of Romeo and Juliet is a land whose beauty is world-renowned. And it is well deserved. As my memory fills with the gravel of time, the memories from Italy are still there; faded, maybe, but precious jewels for me to treasure and share. Happy moments stick out, like when we ate real gelato for the first time, and when he encouraged me to use my choppy Italian with an old woman sitting at her post, in her window with a guarded frown. I called her planter box of herbs “bellissimo”. She gave me the widest toothless grin I have ever seen. Snapshots fill my thoughts, and they all have him in them.

During the month of love, I send you my warmest wishes,

Natasha Brown

Info about the author:

Natasha Brown lives with her husband, two children and three dogs in Littleton, Colorado. She was inspired to write a story about a girl struggling with her heart condition, after her daughter was born with heart defects. “I like lead women who have the tenacity to carry on even in the face of adversity. Ana is a character I look up to- and I can’t wait to share with my readers where her character is going in the series.” To know more, visit her Blog and Twitter

 

Natasha Brown recently released her first book, “Fledgling” (Book One of “The Shapeshifter Chronicles”), a YA fantasy romance.

To buy it, simply click on the cover below:

 

Written for Lost in Fiction UK- http://www.lostinfiction.co.uk/?p=1007