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Author Spotlight – Tima Maria Lacoba

Today’s Author Spotlight comes to you courtesy of Tima Maria Lacoba, the creator of the Dantonville Legacy series. Reading through the answers to the questions I sent out, I was intrigued to find that we both share a love of history, though I’ve unfortunately been unable to get my hands dirty on a dig. Oh, and no-one has every tried to buy me either.

So, with those things in mind, I’ll hand off to Tima Maria Lacoba…

Introducing Tima Maria Lacoba

A former ancient historian and archaeologist, Tima Maria accidently smashed a 3,000 Egyptian vase while on her first dig! Her supervisor made her glue it back together again. It took a week. From there she went on to specialise in late Roman-British archaeology, and the military forts along Hadrian’s Wall, because buildings don’t smash as easily.  Now she’s combined my love of history with another passion – story-telling – to create a dark tale of Roman soldiers who’ve waited nearly two thousand years to be released from an ancient curse.

 

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I’ve has always been a storyteller, but it wasn’t until five years ago that I seriously ventured into writing. The result was Bloodgifted. In 2011 it was shortlisted in the Atlas Award and eventually came fourth place. In 2012 it was listed among the top ten in the Choclit Search for an Aussie Star Competition. In 2013, I was offered a publishing contract but declined in favour of going indie, preferring the idea of being in charge of my own creation.

Bloodgifted, Bloodpledge and BloodVault and the first three books in The Dantonville Legacy series. I also intends to satisfy my fans requests by writing individual books on the other characters in the series. So Terens, Cal Jake and Sam will each have their own story.

Currently I live on the Central Coast, an hour’s drive north of Sydney in Australia. My little house is surrounded by bushland, possums and seed-dropping Rosellas on one side, and waterways on the other.

Between bouts of writing, I can be found in the kitchen baking yet another chocolate recipe. This activity is responsible for forming more gothic, urban fantasy stories in my mind for future books.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

My current WIP is BloodWish, the 4th book in my gothic romance – the Dantonville Legacy Series – and continues the story of Laura Dantonville, a young woman with a shocking family secret – a curse – only she can lift.

Who is your intended readership?

Originally I aimed for women readers in their mid 40s, but since releasing the first book in the series, I’ve been surprised to see that it’s also attracted a much younger audience.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

Truly, I didn’t intend becoming an author. It just seemed to be a natural progression from academic writing to fiction. I’d just handed in my Masters Thesis and began work on BloodGifted.

Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?

There are too many names, but among my favourite authors are James A. Michener, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Maggie Shayne and Gena Showalter. In different ways, each of them has inspired me.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Write what you love and never give up, and study your craft.

Do you have any amusing writing stories or anecdotes to share?

Being an archaeologist and ancient historian, I’ve been on many digs around the world. When I was in Israel, as part of an international team excavating a New Kingdom Egyptian site, a group of Bedouins came past and began haggling with one of my colleagues. He sent them angrily away. It was only later he told me they were interested in buying me!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?

I’m a keen gardener. There’s nothing like pulling out weeds to vent your frustration over a plot hole or writers block. Besides that, I love doing crafty things like jewellery making.

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

Once I’ve completed my gothic romance – the Dantonville Legacy Series – I might try my hand at a historical novel. As an archaeologist, how could I not?

dantonville-legacy

#1 : Blood Gifted

What if you had the power to lift an ancient curse but at a frightening price? Primary school teacher Laura Dantonville’s ordinary life comes to an end when she learns her family’s ancestral legacy, and a shocking secret that explains her strange inability to age.

Propelled into a violent underworld ruled by magic, murder and mystery, and stalked by vampire clans who covet the rare gift her blood bestows, Laura has to consent to the protection of a guardian – Alec Munro, powerful leader of the Dantonville clan. Despite a powerful attraction between the two, she discovers a far more intimate association between them is necessary if she is to end the curse that has plagued her family for centuries.

With time running out, Laura must decide to which world she belongs – human or vampire? Can she tread a delicate path between the two? Or will her fate – and that of her family – be decided by her police detective boyfriend Matt Sommers who is determined to destroy anyone who stands between them?

Where to Buy: Amazon (US)(UK) – (CA)(AU)

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#2 : Blood Pledge

Ending a curse was never meant to be easy.

When Laura Dantonville learnt her family’s well-kept secret and the reason for her inability to age, she never suspected it would impact her relationship with her police-detective boyfriend, Matt Sommers. But neither had she expected the growing attraction she and her vampire-guardian, Alec Munro, would have for each other.

In those few days, Laura had entered the world of the Brethren – vampires who rule the city’s dark underworld, and where resentment and anger grow at Alec’s privileged position as daywalker. Among a powerful few, alliances are made and conspiracies formed, threatening a war that could destroy them all and endanger every human on the planet – creatures who would do anything to prevent the curse from ending.

To protect Laura from the Rebel faction who see her as their ticket to the daylight, Alec must invoke the Pledge, an ancient ceremony that enforces Brethren loyalty to the Principate. But will it be enough to ensure her safety and bring about the ending of the curse that has plagued her family for centuries?

 Where to Buy: Amazon (US)(UK) – (CA)(AU)

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#3 : Blood Vault

Keeping a secret has never been more dangerous …

Hidden in caverns deep beneath Chateau D’Antonville in a misty French valley, lies a priceless treasure – the Bloodvault. Containing thousands of Ingenii blood vials, just one sip enables a vampire to daywalk. For nearly eighteen-hundred years, the family has kept the vault’s existence secret from the Brethren. But now, the Rebel leader, Count Timur, has learned of its whereabouts.

Faced with an imminent attack on her family’s ancestral home – Chateau D’Antonville – Alec and Laura must flee Sydney to confront this new threat. But the Rebels are not their only enemy. Will Count Timur leak the secret of the vault and cause even their loyal allies to turn against them?

With the very survival of the Principate at stake, Alec and Laura must try and persuade her father, Luc, to share the secret and open the Bloodvault or risk losing everything, including their lives.

In the midst of this, from among their own, comes a betrayal so deep, so unexpected …

 Where to Buy: Amazon (US)(UK) – (CA)(AU)

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Where to find Tima Maria Lacoba:

Website, Twitter, Amazon Page, Facebook

Perception Is Everything! (Some Reality About “Vicious” Dogs)

I’m a dog person in a big way. Even thought I currently don’t own one, I grew up around dogs, and take every opportunity to get close to them.

In my forty-two years, I have NEVER had trouble with any dogs, including the supposedly “vicious” dog breeds. If anything, I’ve found many of these “aggressive” breeds to be among the most loving and gentle creatures.

About the Video Maker

Ryan is the prankster, and social experimenter behind the HammyTV YouTube channel, and earlier this month he put out a video that I found fascinating. As a dog owner, Ryan is used to people reacting to his dogs in very different ways.

Over a period of a couple of weeks, Ryan walked both his dogs along the same route. The first week he took Kano (his Blue Nose Pitbull), and the second week it was Molly’s turn (his Australian Shepherd). Both dog breeds have been tested by the American Temperament Test Society, and the Pitbull tested higher on tolerance than the Australian Shepherd.

The Social Experiment

Ryan opens the video with this statement.

“If I were to ask you to form a list of what you thought the top three most aggressive dog breeds are, it’s likely that most of you would have the American Pitbull somewhere in your list. According to applied animal behavioral scientists, the top three dogs that exhibit the most aggression were actually the Dachshund,  followed by the Chihuahua, followed by the Jack Russell Terrior.”

Watch what happens carefully…

About the American Temperament Test Society

The ATTS is a non-profit organization that conducts and promotes uniform temperament testing for dogs. For each of the dogs tested, three ATTS testers conduct a 8-12 session designed to assess the temperament of that dog. Of the almost 32,500 dogs tested, nearly 27,000 have received the Temperament Tested title, which equates to an average of 83%.

For comparison, the American Pitbull scores an average of 86.8% while the Australian Shepherd scores only 82.2%, based on statistics released in February 2013. So I was interested to watch this video, and see people’s reactions to these two, very different breeds of dog, both of which I have had very positive experiences with.

My Conclusions

Both breeds of dog score a lot higher than many of the other dog breeds tested by the ATTS, but watching people’s reactions shows that their perceptions are skewed against the Pitbull.

  • One person in the video states that they see stories of Pitbull aggression in the news all the time. Unfortunately this is very often how people hear about the “aggressive” breeds, but they rarely hear about the neglect, mistreatment, and aggression leveled against those same dogs.
  • Another demonstrates a clear bias against Pitbulls, and other “aggressive” dogs – going so far as to instruct Ryan to remove himself and Kano from the property, since they do not allow dogs there. A week later his reaction is entirely different, when Ryan brings Molly around to the same location.

I’ve been up close with many dogs over the years, and have found pitbulls to be fiercely loyal, loving, and intelligent creatures with a temperament that is suitable for all ages. Yes, some of them become aggressive, but there is almost always a history of mistreatment, as there is a with almost every dog that turns to aggression. However, those dogs can be rehabilitated in almost all cases, with care and attention, and above all love.

Author Spotlight – Ed Ireland

This week’s guest author is Ed Ireland, a self-confessed gaming addict, and a fun guy to interview. When I send these interview questions out to authors, I have no idea what’s going to come back, if anything. But Ed provided an entertaining set of responses, that I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading.

Introducing Ed Ireland

Ed Ireland was born in Philadelphia on September 29, 1954. In January of 1955, the hospital he was born in was torn down. Presumably, they didn’t want anything like that happening again. His adolescence was shaped in Catholic school where the proper use of the common language was the only thing that mattered to the short but strong nuns.

In 1972 he joined the military where his wanderlust surfaced. He has since called many places home such as Texas, California, Nevada, Colorado, Pennsylvania New Jersey, New York and North Carolina while on his way to his current home in Miami, Florida. He claims his penchant for wandering is now at an end here in the shadows of Hemmingway.

Along this great and wondrous trip he has collected memories of some of the most beautiful scenery this country has to offer. He has also met a veritable kaleidoscope of colorful characters that make up the tapestry of his work. Along with his scenic visions, each character in his works carries some part of people he has known in his life, both good and bad.

On the personal side of his life, he is the proud father of two, a rabid Philadelphia Eagles fan, a self-confessed video game addict and a proud supporter of wildlife issues. His particular issue is support for the wolf programs across the country. He encourages support for these magnificent animals and donates a portion of each sale to Runningwiththewolves.org.

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

OK, I can do that. I’d like to say I was born on a winter’s night in the Middle East to two wandering parents…but it just ain’t so. I was born in Philly so thank your lucky stars this is a written interview and not spoken.

I am a degenerate game player and if you know Philly, you know what the Philadelphia Eagles mean to me. I like to cook and garden mostly because I’m getting too old for fun stuff anymore. Nah, it’s mostly because…oh hell, it’s the first reason.

I enjoy writing, but oddly enough I hate to read. I went through Catholic school in the 60’s and 70’s and after enough beatings at the hands of short, powerful nuns you get good enough to start your own literary police force. I can’t stand reading stories that could have been scrawled in crayon on the inside of a cereal box turned to print without proper editing. And don’t get me started on sentences like “Ware R U going”…

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

Ahh, so quickly to delve into the meat and potatoes of the interview. My latest book is entitled “The Last Ranger of Sarn”. It is what I can an adult epic fantasy/romance/horror tale. My characters curse, get naked, make love and assist in numerous beheadings. No YA in my stable. Then again, from some of the YA books I’ve seen, perhaps I have the wrong idea about what the YA rating means.

But, back to me. When I used to read, the progression of the character was always important to me. So, I took great care to bring my heroine to life. She is a very normal person that is simply put into a choice of do or die. In fact, all of my characters are that way. They all have strengths and frailties. I was always taught that the best quality one could possess in their character was not how good they were at avoiding adversity, but rather how well they adapted to it.

In Last Ranger, I bring my heroine to the edge of madness several times. Each trip costs her, just as it would a real person. I can safely say that when you finish my book, you’ll think of Vespias Firstlight as a real person…and you’ll want more.

Who is your intended readership?

Well, my work is intended for several groups of readers. I would say that people with eyes are one group. Also, as a sub-group, I would add people with fingers to read braille if the eye thing is a problem.

Another group would be the living. While Vespias might have to fight off undead attackers, I’m pretty sure if any are about in the real world, they probably wouldn’t like my book. And a final group might be those people that have bookcases in their bathrooms. You know who you are!

But, all kidding aside, I would like my book to reach into at least two groups. That group that enjoys a good sword & sorcery tale and that other group that likes a good, realistic love story set against the backdrop of a war.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’m still not sure I want to be a writer. Maybe if these stories would stop popping up in my head, my muse would just go away. I’m one of those unfortunate people that get the idea and then must get it out to a largely uncaring world.

Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?

Of course, I am always inspired by the master of my chosen genre, J.R.R. Tolkien. Another inspiration for me is Gregory Maguire. He wrote “Wicked – The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West”. Not that very silly stage musical, but the real, dark, political and gritty story of the Witch of the West. He taught me to see both sides of any situation. What each player perceives as the truth is often very different. I try to work that in when I write. Sometimes it works and other times, ehh.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Simply put, don’t give up. Keep writing. The more you write, the better you’ll get. Much better advice than what my first author gave me. I asked for her advice on being a writer and through what I’m sure were drunken eyes, she slurred out for me to “keep my day job”.

Do you have any amusing writing stories or anecdotes to share?

Amusing how? Like I’m a clown? I’m here to amuse you??? Actually, my entire life is either and amusing anecdote. Well except for the tragic parts of it.

OK, here’s one.

I was nursing a cold…not a sniffle kind of cold, but a real cold. The kind that makes everyone you know afraid to come within ten feet of you. Coughing, sneezing, runny nose…the entire enchilada with hot sauce.

So, against my better judgement, my wife talks me into going to Wal-Mart with her, her mother and our daughter. So right there in the middle of the store, in a very crowded aisle, I sneeze. At the same time, my butt decided to join in the chorus and I let it rip… loudly. So loud that at least five people spun around and looked at me.

I turned, embarrassed, hurt and confused, to my loved ones. I saw them just as they ducked down another aisle. When I got there, the three of them had tears in their eyes from laughing. My wife rationalized it by telling me to put it in one of my books. Right.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?

The aforementioned hobbies, cooking, gardening and gaming. Apparently, writing is a hobby until you sell enough copies. Screw you NY Times Best Seller List!

I am also very passionate about animal rights. Animals are mistreated and maligned every day on this planet and they have no voices to fight back with. It comes therefore, to each of us to be that voice. Stop the aerial hunts, stop the whaling, stop the black market harvesting of animal parts.

Start being more concerned with what is happening to our world. Remember, we are just a more sophisticated animal. As their world goes, so does ours.

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

Well, aside from the editing on the next passage of Vespias Firstlight’s life, I’m re-writing an historical fiction piece I did entitled “Crime Scene”. It’s about the alleged mafia ties to the JFK assassination as told through a Philly gangster. It comes complete with authentic Philly speech. All that’s missing is the cheesesteak!

Speaking of food, there’s also a possible cookbook featuring all of my grandmother’s Italian cooking secrets. It’ll be told in my best smartass style.

The Journals of the Huntress:

The Last Ranger of Sarn

Vespias began to take a knee, as was the custom of the Rangers before battle. She was expected to ask Surres, the Mother-Goddess of all life, forgiveness for the lives she was about to take. As she lowered herself, that knee stiffened.

She thought of the destruction the Black Prince had visited on her home. She thought of the countless lives he had taken. She thought of what would happen if he won. Her home, her family…indeed, her entire race would be stricken from history as if they had never been.

Slowly, defiantly she lifted herself while the kneeling Rangers around her looked on. She whispered a silent apology to Surres and instead called upon Lyra, the warrior Crone-Goddess who tended the underworld.
“Before the end of this battle” she whispered hoarsely, “you will have either the dark soul of my enemy, or my own soul. If it is mine, receive it well and put it in a place of honor. Then tell the Castian people, my heart had endured enough.”

Buy Direct: Snow Leopard Publishing

Paperback: Amazon

Hard Cover: Amazon

Ebook: Amazon

Where to find Ed Ireland:

Website, Smashwords, Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Email

“The Eagle Huntress” – Documentary

Way back in the early days of my blog, (April 16th 2014 to be precise), I wrote a post about Aisholpan, a 13-year-old eagle hunter. She was training to become the first female eagle hunter in her Mongolian tribe in over 12 generations.

I’m pleased to say that her story has since been turned into a documentary, with narration by Daisy Ridley, directed by Otto Bell, and shot in large parts by drone-mounted cameras. And more impressive still, the film had no budget, and was recorded in some of the most remote areas known to man.

IMDB describes the film’s plot with these words:

This spellbinding documentary follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian girl who is fighting to become the first female eagle hunter in twelve generations of her Kazakh family. Through breathtaking aerial cinematography and intimate verite footage, the film captures her personal journey while also addressing universal themes like female empowerment, the natural world, coming of age and the onset of modernity.

Watch the trailer:

See how some of the documentary was filmed: