Monday, October 29, 2012

Review~Murder On A Ghost Ship @DianeRapp


Halloween is almost here.  It's time for a good ghost story.  Here is one of my fav's.

Murder on a Ghost Ship is the second novel in the High Seas Mystery Series.  I fell in love with the first in the series, ‘Murder Caribbean-Style’. 

I was happily enchanted, all over again.

Diane Rapp has a musical style of writing that envelopes you in the story, transporting you to beautiful places.  However, be prepared to go to some very ugly scenes.

Enjoy the ocean breeze as you embark on your cruise and deepen your relationship with the characters. 

You will smile at the blossoming love story between Kayla and Steven.  They make a lovely couple- deserving happiness.  However, will they find their happy ending?

Emily is a strong powerful woman, but she may surprise you by showing her soft side.  The exotic Natalia will prove that her powers may not be just for show.  Her gift may not be a match for “The Lady”.

Romance may be in the air, but all is not rosy. 

There is a ghost aboard the ship- she is not happy and she wants everyone to know...  Her increasing rage could end in murder.

The glamorous Hollywood guests seem to have more than one secret.  A suspected love triangle could end in a jealous frenzy.

There are predators in the shadows and they are capable of killing! 

The friends’ band together to solve this mystery and find that danger lurks on the ship.  

 Interview with Diane Rapp

K- I love a great ghost story and you kept me on the edge of my seat with this particular ghost.  Are you a believer?

D- I’ve watched every episode of Ghost Whisperer so many times that I recognize the plot after the first five minutes.  I’ve known people who claimed to experience a haunting, so I have an open mind on the subject.  (My husband scoffs but claims he enjoyed my book.)  Who are we to say that a spirit can’t linger on earth if it has unfinished business? 

K- I’m a believer.

Diane- I am in love the ‘High Seas Mystery Series’.  Please tell me we will be seeing more of Kayla, Steven & the gang.

D- You can bet on it!  I’m doing a timeline for a cruise mystery to Alaska and might book another trip--purely for research.  I’ve already got several intriguing elements to the story planned, including an art heist, a group of golfers who want to play golf at midnight, and another murder.  The title is Murder for Glacier Blue.  Did I mention the wedding on Glacier Bay?  It will happen if Steven’s ex-wife doesn’t mess things up for Kayla…

K- Oh I can’t wait!

I mentioned this before, but I think I would love to see the series on the big screen- or even as a Lifetime movie.  It would be the best Lifetime movie- ever!  Have you ever thought about that?

D- Absolutely, do you have any connections in Hollywood?  I used to know someone and I really need to contact them, because I “cast” actors in the character roles whenever I see a good movie.  Wouldn’t it be fun to explore these stories on location?  I’m up for the trip.

K- Yes!  I am up for that research project.  Just let me know when.  

I wish I had some connections in Hollywood- but not yet…In terms of casting- I envision Amy Adams as Kayla, Julian McMahon as Steven (okay he is actually Australian, but he’s just sooo handsome!),  Ann Margaret as Emily,  Mila Kunis as Natalia &  Olivia Wilde as ‘The Lady’.  Please tell me your vision.

D- Sounds like a great cast to me.  I love Amy Adams and she’s a great actress but I also like Piper Parabo.  She’s real sassy and cute as a CIA agent.  I admit I had to “Google” Julian McMahon but recognized him the minute I saw his face.  I didn’t know he’s an aussie, and he is a hunk.  I also really like Hugh Jackman or Gerard Butler as leading men, my favorite would be Matt Bomer.  His blue eyes would make Steven sexy (and I’m sure he could learn to fake a British accent).  Mila Kunis would be beautiful as Natalia, but when I saw Rooney Mara at the Oscars without her “Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” persona, I thought she’d also make a great Natalia (thin and mysterious).    I could see Jude Law as Steven’s Interpol friend, Jason Briggs, the guy who develops an attraction to Natalia.  The “Lady” is not as sexy as Olivia Wilde.  She’s more like a Jackie Kennedy type, sophisticated but shy.  I’d cast Rachel Weiss in that role.  

This is so much fun.  How big a budget do we have?  I think I just blew the budget with my choices but who cares.

K- Okay- I see what you mean.  You are very good at casting.  Don’t worry about the budget- this is going to be a box office blockbuster! 

I'm curious.  Kayla, the heroine in this series is a truly likeable character.  She is strong and independent with just a touch of vulnerability.  I heard a rumor that there is special inspiration behind Kayla’s character- is this true?

D- Yes!  My daughter, Laura, allowed me to “borrow” her characteristics and personality for the story.  She married an Englishman, who she met while working on a cruise ship, and they have a beautiful little girl.  They started as the general role models, but the characters got exaggerated and the stories are pure fiction.  She now manages my webpage.

K- I love a happy ending.  It sounds like you have a lovely family.

I am excited about your new science fiction series.  I just bought 'Howl of the Wolf'.  I am so looking forward to reading it!  What was your inspiration here?

D- I began writing for a German Shepherd Dog club magazine.  I was the editor but no one else submitted articles, so I filled the pages with short stories about dogs.  The short pieces migrated to longer one, and then my imagination got shot into outer space with sentient wolves.  They are modeled after my German Shepherd who passed away over a year ago.  I still visit him on the planet Drako. 

I continued writing as a cure for insomnia.  I’d think of a “what if scenario” while trying to fall asleep.  My mind worked on it night after night until the idea reached a boiling point. I needed to type as fast as my fingers would move to get it into a computer.  Nothing was ever planned—and real work needed to be done.  When I got serious, I had lots of fragmented pieces that I’m still rearranging.  When I wrote the mysteries I had a plan, but who sticks to the plan? 

K- I believe that these stories take on a life of their own.

 If you would like, I would love to do the writing exercise.  I give you a scene and then you re-write it in your own captivating style.  Are you game?

D-- Always.  I generally pick a character and mold the scene around that person.

K- Okay, then here it is:

There were rumors about Kamlesh.  He had powers.  They were magical gifts.  This magic frightened the people of the village.  An untouchable could never become a guru of God, so they believed that he was evil.

"He has evil powers- dark powers.  An untouchable cannot be a guru of God."

Dadoo had insisted on the marriage between Pratibha and Anil.  It was a good match.  Anil was of a higher caste.  He belonged to the same caste as their family.  Pratibha cried every day and every night.  Her beautiful face became gaunt as her petite frame became thinner and thinner.

"Please Pratibha- eat something.  You want to be a healthy, beautiful bride, don't you?"

"I don't even want to live if I have to marry Anil!"
She had no appetite- she could not bear to eat a bite when her happy future was disappearing.  She begged her parents to stop the wedding and break the engagement.  They would not listen.  They thought that they were doing the right thing by arranging this marriage.  It was their custom.  They thought they had found a good man that could provide for their daughter and give her a good life.

Pratibha watched Kamlesh walk serenely down the dusty path to the temple, located in the forest at the edge of her family’s property.  She sighed at the sight of him, imagining his chocolate brown eyes and inky black hair that dangled over his high forehead.  She hurried with her morning chores and excused herself to attend her prayers.  She must speak with him. 

As she slipped into the temple she uttered a gasp at the sight of Kamlesh.  He hovered two inches above the stone floor, sitting cross-legged, while chanting his mantra.  He’s a holy man!  She rushed back to the palace with the news, eager to let her father know.

“Dadoo, you must come see Kamlesh!” she cried, dragging her father toward the temple.  “He’s a guru of God!”

Her father shook his head and frowned.  “You know he’s untouchable and cannot be a guru.  Don’t speak such rubbish, my daughter.”  When he saw Kamlesh his eyes grew round as saucers and backed out of the temple trembling.  “He’s got evil powers!  Never go near him again, lest he turn you into a spirit and whisk you away.”

“No, Dadoo.  I love Kamlesh and want to marry him.  He’s the kindest man I’ve ever known and could not possess dark powers.”

“Villagers already fear him, and now I’ve seen his magic for myself.”  Dadoo’s face reddened and he shook his fist.  “Speak no more of this, daughter.  You’re promised to Anil and the marriage will take place as arranged.  He’s a member of our caste and a rich man.  Go back to our palace and never go into this forest again.”

Hot tears burned in Pratibha’s eyes.  “I beg you, Dadoo.  I do not love Anil and cannot marry him.  Please, don’t make me disobey.”

“I’ll banish Kamlesh from the village, and you’ll never see him again.  Go!  Do not shame our family with talk of marrying an untouchable; by marrying Kamlesh, you would become dead to our family.”

During the weeks approaching the wedding with Anil, Pratibha’s eyes remained swollen with tears but her round cheeks turned gaunt.  Her mother pleaded, “Please eat, something.  You want to be a beautiful, healthy bride on your wedding day.”

“No!  I’d rather waste to skin and bones than marry Anil.  Please don’t make me go through with this wedding, or my ghost will haunt you from my grave,” Pratibha sobbed.

Her mother shook her head and continued to sew the magnificent wedding gown that would demonstrate to the village their family wealth and pride.  Pratibha knew her parents believed they did the right thing in arranging her marriage to a wealthy man of her own caste.  Customs must be followed.  She thought about Kamlesh, her handsome lover and rubbed the small bulge in her belly.  She’d never marry another man.

K- You never cease to amaze me.  Your writing is musical.  Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.  I hope we can chat again, after I’ve had a chance to read your new book, ‘Howl of the Wolf.’

You can find Diane’s books here     

You can follow Diane on Twitter here 

Find Diane’s website here    


Monday, September 3, 2012

Setting Goals & Getting Organized!

It was perfect timing when I discovered this great motivational group at K.T. Hanna’s website .  Here’s how K.T. describes the experience::

Apart from the general cheering we do on a daily basis, a Goal-Check Month is where you set goals for yourself and hold yourself accountable to them. You let us know what those goals are, and report during the month on how you think you’re going with them. This helps hold yourself accountable.

The aim here isn’t to compete with each other – it’s to compete against ourselves (and that pesky inner-critic and procrastination demon that try to defeat us when we least want them to).

To that end we try to add a little incentive every month. This time around – we’re going to add buttons again. Shiny, colourful, cookie buttons – with a collect them all sort of vibe ;) July was a lovely blue – September will be a nice shiny new colour!
Though these goal-check months have rules – don’t worry – they’re completely doable.

The Rules:

Make a list of realistic goals for the month – and achieve them.

Make a Blog Post every week (preferably Monday, but if you don’t post on Mondays just add it to the next day you would normally post . This is to help us keep tabs on our own progress, and for others to cheer us on if it’s a difficult week. 
Please link to the post in the #writemotivation hashtag

Visit your #writemotivation team mates blogs, and participate in the #writemotivation hashtag to cheer people on.

Please fill in the form here.

These are my goals for the month:

Write 1000 words on my WIP.
Finish research and work on training seminar for anti-bullying program
Post once a week on all four blogs.

Are you ready to set your own goals?  Good luck : ))

Picture photograph by Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The diabolical 'Zeke'~character interviews~compliments of @WodkeHawkinson

Character Interview with Sue

K- Hi Sue. Thank you for joining me for this interview. Your story has touched many and brought with it several burning questions. I guess the first question in my mind is what attracted you to Zeke in the first place?

S- It was his looks that first caught my attention. And then he spoke. His voice was like honey. His eyes were an electric blue, vibrant, and his body was to die for. Plus, he had a way of looking at me like I was really special. I couldn’t believe he was interested in me, at all. Let’s face it; he’s hot.

K-I get that.  He is a good looking guy, but looks are only skin deep.  (Shaking my head, feeling a tad judgmental...foolish girl!) Even when Zeke humiliated you, you always found a way to justify his behavior and forgive him. Why did you ignore all those warning signs early on??

S- At the time, I was convinced he didn’t mean to hurt me. I felt he was using me as an outlet to vent the pain of his bad upbringing; plus, I rationalized that due to his creative nature he had a sensitive temperament.

K-Well, I can understand how you might have gone into “savior mode”; I think most women have experienced that at least once in their lives.  I guess that’s part of the appeal of the “bad boy”. (Softening... feeling empathetic, placing my hand on hers,) Why did you believe the lies that Zeke told you about your parents, when you had only known him for a short time?

S- He was a master of words. Zeke had a way of manipulating my thoughts and convincing me he was right. I didn’t really believe everything he said, but he had a way of planting doubt in my mind.

K-He is definitely a master of manipulation. It’s his gift… a gift he uses for evil…(Looking into Sue's eyes and seeing the loss & betrayal) Out of all of the horrible experiences you went through with Zeke, what was the most painful?

S- Other than at the very last, the worst was when he found out I’d called home. Not only did he hurt me physically, but I got my first true look into the dangerous mind behind the façade of his charm.

K-That must have been so terrifying. (Suddenly feeling very protective of Sue) You experienced horror beyond imagination with Zeke.  Thank God you are alive to tell the tale.  What lesson would you share with other young girls who might fall prey to another Zeke?

S- First off, look past the surface and don’t ignore any warning signs. If a man tries to control you, has an unpredictable temper, and convinces you to do things you know are wrong, you need to do an about-face, walk away, and don’t look back.

K- That’s great advice, Sue.  Maybe by sharing your story, you can save another young girl.  Thank you for sharing with us and best of luck to you. ( I hug Sue tightly and pray that other young girls will hear this message)

Character interview with Zeke

K- Hello Zeke thank you for agreeing to do this interview.  I have to admit I was reluctant to meet with you, but I think everyone is curious to find what motivates someone to orchestrate such pure evil. (My heart is pounding so loudly in fear... I hope he can't hear it) My first question is this: at times you acted in an almost loving manner towards Sue; did you have any feelings for her at all?

Z- What do you mean act? I wasn’t acting; I loved Sue, at least to begin with. After a while, she became somewhat of a bore. But that’s old history; let’s talk about you. So your name is Kat, that’s really unusual. Does it stand for Katrina? It has poetic aspects to it. You do know I write poetry don’t you? I’d like to show you some of my stuff sometime.

K-No, it’s Kathleen. (Feeling strangely flattered, as his mesmerizing eyes seem to look into my soul) But let’s talk about you. You seem to feel no guilt about the horrendous crimes that you have committed. How do you justify your actions?

Z- Crimes? Look, I might have gotten carried away a time or two, but accidents happen. I mean, come on, Kat, (laughs softly) have you ever seen me deliberately hurt someone?

K-You were able to manipulate Sue so easily, you seem to know exactly how to control her. (Shifting uncomfortably in my seat, horrified that this monster could affect me this way) Did you see something in her that made her a likely target?

Z- Kat, really, target? I don’t like the word target. I see potential in every woman; Sue was desperately looking for love. I could almost taste her need for acceptance, it was so strong.

K-You use your sexuality and charm as a lure and a tool in manipulating your victims. Do you even enjoy the sex? (I damn the color that starts to blush my cheeks)

Z- Hell yes, I enjoy it. It’s all good. I have a very large…sexuality, if you know what I mean. Why don’t we go grab a bite to eat and discuss it? By the way, do you have any money? I seem to have forgotten my wallet.

K-I get the impression that you feel a sense of entitlement, (sitting up straighter, finally snapping out of his spell...the money part did it) what makes you feel that the world owes you?

Z- I’ve never insinuated I was owed anything. Don’t put words in my mouth, kitten. But now that you’ve brought it up, I do deserve more from life than I’ve gotten.

K-When did you first start killing? (Feeling the hatred rise up in my throat)

Z- Whoa! Hold on there, kitten. I’ve never killed anyone. What kind of monster do you think I am? I can’t be held responsible when people die. It’s not my fault if a woman is too delicate to handle the needs of a real man.

K-Do you have any plans for the future? (Sickened, and wishing him dead) What makes Zeke happy?

Z- I plan to publish my poetry someday soon. And then I’d like to find the perfect woman, someone soft, pliable, and willing. It would be absolutely perfect if she was generous with her money. Then we could travel and experience life to its fullest. That’s what it’s all about, really. Experiencing life. What are your future plans, kitten? Feel like a road trip?

K- No thank you.  Good luck to you, Zeke. (I quickly leave the room, feeling quite shaken, having just met the most dangerous breed of predator.)

Buy Zeke here

Learn more about Wodke Hawkinson here

Follow them on Twitter here

Read the review here 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Your Second Brain~ fascinating!

They used to call it a “nervous stomach”.   This description covered most gastric ailments that might afflict a soul during a time of stress, sorrow or even happiness. 

Then there is the sound advice to “follow your gut feeling”.  That would be that sensation that tells you something is just not right, or perhaps that it is just right.

What used to be considered old wives tales, are now being explored and explained by science.  Scientists have discovered that the previously overlooked network of neurons lining our guts is so all-encompassing , it has been nicknamed the "second brain".

According to Adam Hadhazy, a contributor at Scientific American,  research has revealed that the “second brain” plays a significant role our mental state and in certain diseases throughout the body.  The following is a compilation of Adam’s research.

"The second brain doesn't help with the great thought processes…religion, philosophy and poetry is left to the brain in the head," says Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, an expert in the nascent field of neurogastroenterology and author of the  book The Second Brain (HarperCollins).

Technically known as the enteric nervous system, the second brain consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the esophagus to the anus. The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system, Gershon says.

This multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system enables us to "feel" the inner world of our gut and its contents. Much of this neural firepower comes to bear in the elaborate daily grind of digestion. Breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and expelling of waste requires chemical processing, mechanical mixing and rhythmic muscle contractions that move everything on down the line.

Thus equipped with its own reflexes and senses, the second brain can control gut behavior independently of the brain, Gershon says. We likely evolved this intricate web of nerves to perform digestion and excretion "on site," rather than remotely from our brains through the middleman of the spinal cord. "The brain in the head doesn't need to get its hands dirty with the messy business of digestion, which is delegated to the brain in the gut," Gershon says. He and other researchers explain, however, that the second brain's complexity likely cannot be interpreted through this process alone.

"The system is way too complicated to have evolved only to make sure things move out of your colon," says Emeran Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.). For example, scientists were shocked to learn that about 90 percent of the fibers in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around. "Some of that info is decidedly unpleasant," Gershon says.

The second brain informs our state of mind in other more obscure ways, as well. "A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut," Mayer says. Butterflies in the stomach—signaling in the gut as part of our physiological stress response, Gershon says—is but one example. Although gastrointestinal (GI) turmoil can sour one's moods, everyday emotional well-being may rely on messages from the brain below to the brain above. For example, electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve—a useful treatment for depression—may mimic these signals, Gershon says.

Given the two brains' commonalities, other depression treatments that target the mind can unintentionally impact the gut. The enteric nervous system uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain, and in fact 95 percent of the body's serotonin is found in the bowels. Because antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase serotonin levels, it's little wonder that meds meant to cause chemical changes in the mind often provoke GI issues as a side effect. Irritable bowel syndrome—which afflicts more than two million Americans—also arises in part from too much serotonin in our entrails, and could perhaps be regarded as a "mental illness" of the second brain.

Scientists are learning that the serotonin made by the enteric nervous system might also play a role in more surprising diseases: In a new Nature Medicine study published online February 7, a drug that inhibited the release of serotonin from the gut counteracted the bone-deteriorating disease osteoporosis in postmenopausal rodents. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) "It was totally unexpected that the gut would regulate bone mass to the extent that one could use this regulation to cure—at least in rodents—osteoporosis," says Gerard Karsenty, lead author of the study and chair of the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical Center.

Serotonin seeping from the second brain might even play some part in autism, the developmental disorder often first noticed in early childhood. Gershon has discovered that the same genes involved in synapse formation between neurons in the brain are involved in the alimentary synapse formation. "If these genes are affected in autism," he says, "it could explain why so many kids with autism have GI motor abnormalities" in addition to elevated levels of gut-produced serotonin in their blood.
Down the road, the blossoming field of neurogastroenterology will likely offer some new insight into the workings of the second brain—and its impact on the body and mind. "We have never systematically looked at [the enteric nervous system] in relating lesions in it to diseases like they have for the" central nervous system, Gershon says. One day, perhaps there will be well-known connections between diseases and lesions in the gut's nervous system as some in the brain and spinal cord today indicate multiple sclerosis.

Cutting-edge research is currently investigating how the second brain mediates the body's immune response; after all, at least 70 percent of our immune system is aimed at the gut to expel and kill foreign invaders.

U.C.L.A.'s Mayer is doing work on how the trillions of bacteria in the gut "communicate" with enteric nervous system cells (which they greatly outnumber). His work with the gut's nervous system has led him to think that in coming years psychiatry will need to expand to treat the second brain in addition to the one atop the shoulders.

So for those physically skilled and mentally strong enough to compete in the Olympic Games—as well as those watching at home—it may well behoove us all to pay more heed to our so-called "gut feelings" in the future.
Much thank to Adam Hadhazy : )


Friday, July 13, 2012

It's here! Dragon Defense review & interview with fabulous Dane Rapp

This is the third book in the ‘Heirs to the Throne’ series and I it may be my favorite.  But then again, I happen to love anything that Diane Rapp composes.  She is one of my favorite authors, with her descriptive prose I can truly envelope myself in her stories.

Dragon Defense takes us back to the two mooned planet of Drako.  It’s a unique planet where sentient wolves have lived peacefully with the humans for many generations, and even joined forces to fight an evil enemy. 

The daughters of King Donovan and Queen Krystal are now grown women, each with her own special talent.  They have all come home to the kingdom.  Together they are a powerful force. But will they be able to defeat the most powerful evil they have ever encountered?

 In fact, even the dragons of Drako join the forces, partnering 

with the humans to save many lives.      There is much work to be done, children still in captivity since the frightening reign of Jarrack. Strong alliances are formed; even the dragons of Drako join the forces. 

In the midst of all the danger, there is joy and triumph.  New love may even start to bloom, intoxicated no doubt, by the fragrance of the night blooming flowers. ..

 Interview with Diane Rapp

K- Thank you so much for joining me again, Diane.  I am such a fan.  I so enjoy your writing and this was a real page-turner! You develop the characters with such depth, even the animals. How do you get such great insight with the animals? I really got a kick out of Killer, the bossy Mongoose.

D- I’m addicted to nature programs—except for the icky stuff like spiders and gators.  I actually saw some mongooses grabbing snacks at “High Tea” when we visited the island of St. John in the Caribbean. They were so fast we only captured blurs on our still photographs—and I really wished we had a movie camera. They’re engaging creatures and I couldn’t write about Felesia without giving her a mongoose who loves to catch snakes. Killer was eager to feed snakes to the baby dragon, Flash.
Mother Nature produces the most interesting creatures, ones that authors might not have enough creativity to imagine.  Recently I watched a program about sea creatures and saw a cuttlefish.  This creature flashes colors over its body in the same way I imagined my dragons display colors in their wings.  It was mesmerizing and I immediately searched Google for more videos.  The video of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish is riveting.

K- You really got me curious about those Cuttlefish. I found a video and it was amazing. Here’s a link.
Back to the book: It was great to see the previously abused women become empowered and actually train to be soldiers in the battle against their abuser, Jarrack. Was that a political statement?

D- I didn’t think about that when I wrote the story.  It probably came out of my own experience as a child.  I wasn’t abused but my father and mother argued until he flew into a wild rage and hit her.  It scared me to death until the day I told him to leave the house because I was calling the police.  He threatened to hit me, but I calmly said, “Go ahead.  I’m still calling the police.”  I was shaking but he looked at my face and left the house in tears.  They got divorced soon after—his choice.  I eventually developed a good relationship with my father but my parents were toxic for each other. 
Whew!  I didn’t know that idea was lurking behind my Samurai women until I started answering the question.   I’m glad I gave them the power they needed to help defeat Jarrack.  So how much do I owe you in counseling fees?  When’s our next session, I’ll bring tissue.

K- Glad to help. My family calls me Dr. Patel : )
No interview would be complete without a discussion on casting. Who will play the roles?

D-Since the daughters are really the clones of Krystal (Dr. Alexander managed to change their eye color and hair color), they must be one actress or twin sisters.  I thought about the Olsen twins (too thin) but I did a Google search and two sets of twins look interesting.  Nicola and Teena Collins and twin sisters Connie and Cassie Pownie are beautiful (so I hope they can act).  Google their names and tell me what you think.  We have all the returning cast from Howl of the Wolf.  Nathan Fillian might still be a great Donovan but Sam Worthington could edge him out, the cute young hunk.  He was fabulous in Avatar and now he’s doing lots of different movies.  I hear Julianne Hough is doing another movie and she’d look good next to Sam Worthington.  (We’ll just clone them if they’re too busy.)  I think Zachary Quinto might make a good Jarrack.  He was a wonderful villain on Heroes and played a convincing Spock in the last Star Trek.

K- Between the twins, I would go with Connie and Cassie.  However, I found some other twins Kelly Aldridge and Sabrina Aldridge that you might prefer... I like Nathan Fillian as Donovan and Julianne Hough would be perfect. What about Jack Black (with black hair) as Jarrack? He’s chubby enough.
 Now, if you’d like, we can do the writing exercise.

D-Let’s try it.

K-Here you go:

I could hear the chanting. It sounded distant. I tried to sit up but to my horror I found that I could not move. I was completely paralyzed. My heart was pounding so hard it felt like it was vibrating in my skull. As I struggle to move the feeling of dark foreboding increased. Then I saw him. He was standing over me, his long black and gray hair hanging down like tendrils from a dirty mop. He smiled and that was when I saw the pure evil. The panic spread through my body like molten lava, burning a line from my toes to my head. He reached down and started shaking me by the shoulders.

“Wake up,  wake up Shari. You're having a nightmare.”

Smoke fills the room and music throbs in my head.  Someone wants me to come closer, compels me to obey, but I can’t move.  What’s wrong with me?  I’m burning hot and sweat trickles between my breasts.  The beat of the music vibrates through my skull and I feel the heat of his body coming, step by step, toward my bed.

I need to cover myself, but he won’t let me.  Now I see him!  Panic sears my veins like molten lava, shooting from my brain down to my toes, and it’s impossible not to look.  Intense black eyes capture my gaze and his stringy gray hair moves like snakes writhing as he bends over me.  That’s not the worst!  He smirks at my pitiful attempts to break free from his control, and his sick thoughts sink into my mind.  He’s evil, pure evil!  Please someone, help me get away!  I scrunch my eyes closed and shudder when I feel a hand grip my shoulder. 

“Wake up.  Shari, wake up.”  I hear my mother’s welcome voice.  “You’re having a bad dream, honey.”  

I’m not sure Jarrack is just a dream.

(You set me up to show you a glimpse of Jarrack in this one.  Thanks.)

K- Wow!  I love it! You never disappoint : )

So, what is coming up, Diane?

D-I’m so glad you asked!  Dragon Defense has just been released.  I’m still teaching our dragons how to gently greet guests before the virtual Facebook launch party.  We have a few lessons scheduled before I dare let Earth humans pet them.  Their eating habits might be a tad…gross…but their wing colors are incredible to see.  I’m wondering how we transport giant eels and huskers from Drako so the dragons won’t consider guests…just walking appetizers.  It’s difficult to schedule an intra-planetary party.

I’d better explain.  I introduced one baby dragon, Flash, during Havenshire Resistance and she was most helpful during the battle against Jarrack.  In the next novel, Dragon Defense, Felesia makes friends with a whole flock of dragons—much larger than Flash.  The dragons might be instrumental in saving Drako from being destroyed. 

We’ve also got new characters.  Shariel is a grown daughter of Jarrack, who escaped from her father as a child.  She inherited the talent of mind control and worries that she might become evil like her father.  Donovan’s family must deal with Jarrack but he’s in a new form that might be more terrifying.  A desert rider named Salizar and a new lordling named Brandon stir up “courtship” trouble with the princesses. 

The best new characters in the new book are the dragons.  Blaze and Dazzle have so much fun rescuing people that they allow weak little humans to ride on their backs—a new game.  The humans need to make friends fast.  They must keep their dragons’ interest and persuade them to help save the planet.  Wait until you meet Sparkle…she’s waiting to take you for a personal tour of the dragon seaside cliffs.

K-Diane, where can we find you on the web?

Buy Dragon Defense here

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Howl or the Wolf- where it all began-review & interview

I’m not usually a fan of science fiction, but when Diane Rapp starting writing in this genre, I had to try it.  Diane Rapp has a magical style of writing that immerses the reader deeply into the story. 

This tale takes place in the twenty fifth century on the planet Drako.  It’s a picturesque planet two moons, a bright and a dark, the latter providing night blooming flowers that perfume the air.

A society of telepathic wolves occupied the planet long before the humans arrived. They pass down wisdom from generation to generation. The peaceful integration lasted for lifetimes, with the highly intelligent wolves quietly observing the unique society. The primitive society is made up of colorful groups that include a royal kingdom, peasants and desert dwellers, to name a few. It’s an outer space version of the wild west.  

Things could change with the arrival of a handful of strangers.  They gave up immortality.  Will they regret that decision? The strangers represent all that the existing society hates.

Will they find allies in the wolves?

Can anyone stop the evil that is so powerful it can control minds & kill at will?

Interview with Diane Rapp

K- Thanks so much for joining us here to talk about one of your new books, ‘Howl of the Wolf.’ I fell in love with your writing, in the ‘High Seas Mystery Series’, so I was delighted to read the first book in your Heirs to the Throne series. It was great! Do you prefer the science fiction genre?

 D- I love reading science fiction and fell in love with Anne McCafferey’s ‘Dragon Riders of Pern’ series. I read every one of her books and moved on to read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s ‘Darkover’ novels. When these authors didn’t write fast enough, I imagined my own world. I wrote a crazy rough draft and friends who read the story nagged me to get it published. Last year I dragged out my old files and started rewriting until my eyes crossed.

K-Your writing is so vivid, I always feel like you take me on a journey, with every book. Your descriptions of the wolves felt incredibly realistic. I heard that someone very special inspired you.

D-My German Shepherd Dog, Kriegen, was the inspiration for the telepathic wolves. He had the most beautiful golden-brown eyes and stared as if he sent me messages I couldn’t understand. He’d stare and shift his gaze to the cookie jar (where we kept Milk Bones), and then he’d shift the stare back to me. His stupid human finally got the message. We lost him over a year ago, so I visit him often on Drako.

K- I’m sorry for your loss. I know how painful it is to lose your companion. This is a wonderful tribute to Kriegen.

Back to your descriptions, the futuristic technology that offered immortality was brilliant & quite believable. How do you research for something like that?

D-I watch the Discovery Channel and PBS series Nova to learn about scientific breakthroughs, and then I start to wonder. Scientists cloned Dolly the sheep and surgeons regularly perform heart transplants. I wondered if it wouldn’t be easier to ‘Transfer’ a patient’s mind into his own clone. The expense would be so high that patients might incur lifetime debt to pay for on procedure after another. Would scientists develop an ‘Institute’ to control the business, and lose control over their invention? The Institute could literally control life and death for everyone on the planet and beyond. These kind of “what ifs” float around in my mind until I write them down—scary.

K- A quick peek into the creative mind of Diane Rapp…very interesting.

The books beg to ask some deep questions. Would you give up your freedom for immortality? (Not me!) Do intelligent animals try to communicate with humans? (Yes!)

D-I believe human nature strives for freedom, and I know animals communicate. I wish we could understand them. The other question I develop is: ‘ 'What happens to human skills after centuries of mind Transfer.'   Do our talents evolve into the exceptional or very evil?’ 
I reveal the “back story” of the wolves during the series. Are they natives of Drako or did someone send them to the safety of a habitable planet on the fringe of space?

K-It sounds like I need to start reading the next book. Exciting!
Now let’s talk about the burning, provocative question. Casting! The first actor I thought of for Jarrack was Jack Black.

 D-When I first imagined the character of Jarrack, I visualized Gene Simmons. He was gloriously evil in the movie ‘Runaway,’ and it’s too bad he doesn’t have a young clone for the movie. Billy Zane is another actor who could play Jarrack. Donovan started out as a Tom Selleck kind of guy, but lately I see Nathan Fillian in the role. Krystal was a striking beauty—like Charlize Theron or Julianne Hough with mental powers and skills. Chella is like Jada Pinkett Smith or Tyra Banks, a statuesque black woman who looks severe until she smiles. Trenton has always been Crocodile Dundee in space with a big knife and flashy grin. I identify with Maggie, because I love to eat and can’t keep the weight off. I’d love a Transfer now and then to get skinny.  

K- Yes, I can see your choices working well. Billy Zane plays a villain so well. How we loved to hate him in Titanic! I like Jullianne Hough as Krystal and Tyra Banks would make a great Chella. 

Oh, yes, transfers would be the best diet breakthrough ever!

If you would like, I’d love to do the writing exercise. I give you a scene and then you re-write it in your own captivating style.  Are you game?

D—I’m always game.

K- Okay, then here it is: 

 Anil sat quietly in the dark room, staring down into the amber liquid in the glass he held in his hand. He quickly swallowed the whiskey, in one gulp. Then he screamed out filthy obscenities, while he hurled the glass to the floor. He grimaced as a large glass shard bounced up and lodged in his bare ankle. He reached down and grabbed the glass shard, and pushed it deeply in to his skin, and then pulled the shard through his leg, all the way up to his knee. 

He screamed out in pain and then grabbed the glass shard and threw it back on the floor. He didn't notice the blood gushing down his leg and pooling on the floor. He felt a little better now. He had discovered that cutting himself seemed to calm him down. Sometimes he became so irate and agitated it took more than just a few cuts. It was starting to escalate. Like a drug, he needed more and more. 

The month before he was not able to soothe himself until he had sliced off his pinky finger

D-You didn’t give me an easy one but here goes:

Anger raged through Anil’s chest like a monster threatening to consume his sanity.  He remembered similar monsters from childhood.  He needed something to help calm down, maybe a drink.  The golden whiskey swirled in a glass, beckoning him to drown his sorrows in the amber liquid.  He never drank.  The liquor smelled sharp, antiseptic, but friends claimed it soothed the soul.

The dark room closed in on him, crushing his brain.  He gulped the whiskey all at once and felt it burn down his throat to an aching belly.  It stole his breath but the rage grew hotter.  Smashing the glass down onto a tiled floor, he cursed obscenities until a shard of glass bounced back and pierced his ankle.  He stared at the glass fragment and blood oozing from the wound.  He felt calmer.  With trembling fingers he gripped the jagged shard and pulled it slowly up his leg.  It formed a crooked line from his ankle to his knee.  Pain shot up the leg like a scorpion racing through his blood stream.

Tossing the shard back onto the floor, he failed to notice blood seep down his leg and pool like red syrup on the floor.  Calm rushed over his body and bubbles tingled in his brain like fizz in champagne.  It worked the same way he remembered as a boy.  He’d cut slices along his arm until he felt a buzz, but he could no longer stop with a few cuts.  The pain was a drug and he was an addict. Last month the agitation escalated until he sliced off a pinky finger—now he realized he could never stop.

K- Diane-you’ve outdone yourself! I felt my hair stand on end.

What can we expect to see next, Diane?

D-The Havenshire Resistance (book 2) follows Krystal and her three daughters as they struggle to rescue Donovan from Jarrack.  Krystal organizes an underground resistance of old soldiers, peasants, and Samurai, while she waits for her daughters to mature.  Jarrack holds Donovan captive in stasis and collects a harem of kidnapped women in Havenshire castle.  Desert riders have orders to capture Krystal’s daughters when they reach the breeding age of sixteen. 

Readers will meet the talented sisters: Felesia can link minds with her animal friends.  She has a giant panther, a hawk, and a mongoose, and she raises a dragon chick named Flash.  Lauryn is a powerful healer and empath raised in a convent.  Tessa, raised by Trenton and Maggie in their trapper’s retreat, doesn’t know she’s a telepath until she meets a wolf named Amber.  The sisters come together and develop their special skills, but they must convince the wolves’ Council of Elders to help humans save Havenshire.

In Dragon Defense (book 3) new characters are added to the mix with more problems to solve.  The Institute tracks the Zebulon crew to Drako, radiation sickness is spreading from an aging nuclear reactor, and Felesia gets a flock of dragons to rescue kidnapped children. Have you ever dreamed of flying on a dragon?  The dragons of Drako communicate with swirling colors in translucent wings.  Sons and daughters of Drako race the clock to learn banned technology and fly dragons in a defense against an Institute attack.   Drako means dragon and they might be the key to the planet’s survival.

K- They sound like great books- fast paced, action packed and full of intriguing characters! I can’t wait to get started on the rest. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us.

You can find Diane’s books here        

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Find Diane’s website here