Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Author to Author- Mel Favreaux

I recently had the pleasure of talking to the wonderful author and through getting to know each other, I call a good friend- Mel Favreaux. We sat down to discuss her Sanctuary Series and I had the pleasure of reading the first book in the series--Walker's Run.

The second book in the series was recently released and I look forward to enjoying it as much as I did the first in the series. So take a read and if you haven't read Mel's books? You need to.

Before you became a writer, I’m betting you were a reader. What types of books influenced you as a kid? Did you have a favorite author that inspired you to become one yourself? Who’s your favorite now?

I was 11 the summer I visited my older sister in Virginia. She was an avid reader and took me to the library. I discovered William Sleator, a y/a sci-fi thriller author and that was all it took. By the summer’s end I was reading Stephen King’s IT, and The Stand. I didn’t stop there, I went onto Clive Barker. A wonderful eighth grade book report on Cabal sent a rather worried note home to my mother who laughed at the teacher.

You write in the paranormal romance genre—is there other genre’s you’d like to dive into?

I have also written a women’s contemporary piece, called Valor of a Woman. Readers usually send me pictures of the piles of used tissues they went through when they read it. It makes me smile. I do actually plan on writing another mainstream romance, or contemporary piece here soon. I also have a few ideas for some horror shorts.

The first book in your Sanctuary Series was Walker’s Run. Can you tell us about the rest of the books in the series? And what we can expect?

As each book comes out, you will learn more about the inhabitants of Walker’s Run. Some have left, but they always return. You get to see familiar characters from another’s point of view. With the reincarnation of the Silver Wolf, new problems arise. There will be new alliances, new faces, new loves, and a whole new world of possibilities. My favorite part is the community dynamics and how everyone fits together and their relationships with one another as friends and family.

All writers have ways of writing their manuscripts. Can you tell us what method you use? Write in order or piece it all together in the end?

First off, I am a punster. I start with a general idea and let my characters take me where they will. My stories are character driven and I just give them the outlet. I have also learned it is far easier for me to write each manuscript as separate files for each chapter. It helps me to go back and review, and it’s also easier for me to edit that way. When I am finished, I put it all together in one master file, go through two more read throughs (mainly to make sure that I put ALL the chapters in there…I’ve missed a chapter of two here and there before, LOL.)

What tips can you give to those writers who have a life beyond writing? Jobs, children, family? The non-full time writers. How do you find time to write?

I am still trying to find the delicate balance myself. I’ve been writing since a very early age. I carry a notebook with me everywhere. Though I try to refrain at the dinner table. I have two
young school aged children. I am lucky my oldest, at nine is a voracious reader already. (She’s even a beta reader for a friend who writes sci-fi YA.) Finding that balance with a full-time job and being a full-time single mom was tough. There’s lunch breaks and the hour or two of peace after I put the kids to bed in the evening. If it is something you truly want to do, you will find the time. That goes with anything.

You have a publishing contract with a MuseItUp Publishing. Are there any works of yours out there in the indie world we can dive into? And have you considered putting some indie works beyond your publisher for other types of books?

I don’t have anything available outside of my publishing home…yet. I am considering branching out with a horror series either to another house or self-publishing. It’s all still in the thought process, but I do know I want to test the waters some.

We (including myself) have all had to deal with rejection letters and the sort. How do you handle that in the publishing process? Do you consider it a challenge or a defeat?

I see it as a challenge. I was rejected for Walker’s Run back in 2008. I enlisted the help of some very gifted friends…I still wound up shelving it for a few years. Then last February, I pulled it out and did a complete and total rewrite. The story was worth it, these characters had been with me far too long to just let them sit anymore. I submitted to my pub home, I’d already published Valor of a Woman through Muse and figured it was a worth a shot. Within two days of submission I got the contract. I never look at rejection as a defeat. Yes, it took me a while to get the nerve to try again. But I knew the story was worth it and the characters were worthy. You just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. It’s not easy, nothing ever worth trying ever really is. You’ve got to have tough skin in this business.

It’s the hot topic right now, shame to say, but what is your take on the current mean-natured negativity that seems to eroding the indie world?

I…am appalled honestly. I have incredibly strong opinions. Some I vent, most I keep to myself. I have reconsidered A LOT of my connections in recent months. I try to eliminate drama in all aspects of my life. To see the blatant disrespect, bullying, and typical high school behavior coming from so-called adults is absolutely ridiculous. It’s insane! How are we to teach our children when the grown-ups who have the ability to put a stop to it, are exhibiting the exact same behavior? What does that teach them? How can we even move forward as a whole, when they can see it? This same behavior from ADULTS? It’s painful. As a community we need to band together and held one another out. The problem is too many see others as a threat or competition. No two people will ever read a single book the same way. I don’t see how anyone can view another as competition. Getting away with this inappropriate behavior is atrocious. A lot of good people have been hurt in the process.

If there was one attribute you could call your strongest, what is it? (And bet you can guess the next question…)

Strongest? Uhm…I guess that I work well under pressure. I don’t break easy. I may vent but I get it done and usually with time to spare. As a writer (this works with deadlines, LOL…I see it as a personal challenge with my editors. I knock my edits out as quickly as possible.

Is there a weakness you feel you are constantly having to battle as a writer? If so, what is it? And how do your strength and your weakness come into play with your writing process?

Passive writing. Now that I know what to look for, my writing has changed, but a lot still seeps through.

In 50 years, what would you say are the crucial books and/or films the future generation need to read/watch?

Crucial? Oooh…I have a wide and varied taste when it comes to personal entertainment. What I think is incredibly awesome usually makes other’s stare at me as if I’ve grown three heads. I have favorite authors. Movies I have honestly found lacking in virtually everything. Reviews for movies and books usually don’t draw me in. I read blurbs, the author’s hooks, and go from there. But basically, if a friend is wanting to read something different, I ask the genre they are interested in and then I give them an author or series that I like and tell them why. For instance, paranormal romances I would say Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson novels and the Alpha and Omega novels. Lori Handeland’s The Phoenix Chronicles. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s, Dark Hunters. All pretty good series. Because of Brigg’s and Handeland, I was able to finally get up the nerve to try my hand at paranormal romance.

And finally, the question that always has to come up, yes, even here: What advice would you give fellow authors and writers to help them keep going and get to where they wish to be?

Just keep trying. There will be people that will cut you down for sheer jealousies. There will be those who will lift you up…too high. You have to first and foremost, be happy with what you’ve written. Scrutinize it from every angle, BE your own worst critic and get some tough skin. It’s not easy out there. Once you have that finished product, be willing to fight for it and see it through to the end. Find a good support system. I have a handful of people that keep me sane (not really, just out of the looney bin…for the most part.) They give me the right distractions when I need it and the place to vent and the shoulder to lean on when I need it most. That is the key.

And just for fun:
* Favorite Food Favorite? 
I love food in general. I love Italian. I love Chinese. I love FOOD.

* Soda or Pop?
 It’s soda for me, born and bred in the south-eastern US.

* Favorite Cartoon 
Just one? Uhm…Tiny Toons no wait Animaniacs…OOOH RUG RATS! Rocko’s Modern Life! Rocket Power! 90’s cartoons were just awesome!

* Favorite Movie 
Star Sandra Bullock, she’s versatile and most of all, hilarious!

* The one word you know is wrong but you love anyway
 ...it’s not polite to use it in general but I often let the F-bomb drop in leisurely company...I call it a win if I can go to one of my kid’s school functions and NOT use it in casual conversation.

* And favorite pick-up line a hero should never use 
Heh…I’m a corny gal. Usually the corniest line ever will win me over. Some of this makes it into a few of my leading males. Excessive spewing of word vomit being one of my favorite traits of the hero in book four. But in my opinion, I’ve read some stuff recently that if I was ever spoken to in that way, he’d be missing a few teeth and possibly his tongue. I don’t like the overly vulgar Alpha male, right off the bat. First impressions are HUGE. Admittedly, I have put books down for that very reason.

Thank you Mel for taking the time to chat with me. For those of you who haven't checked out this great author and her books-- Here's some tib-bits to give a taste of the wonderful world of the Sanctuary Series.


Walker's Run, A Sanctuary Novel, Book One Blurb:

Was a life dealing with the pressure of photographing an A-List crowd really what she wanted to be known for? Casey Maynard decided a trip home was called for: a camping trip into the wilds of North Western Montana. But Casey finds herself in the middle of a twenty year vendetta against her father for killing the Alpha of a pack of werewolves who hold a Sanctuary deep in the mountains of the Cabinets. In a battle for her life, Casey falls for the new Alpha of the pack while he shows her how to handle and communicate with her own wolf. Upon discovering the wolf spirit who chose her was the Mother of all Weres… more treachery thrives. Finding love and true bonds that know no bounds, her life is turned upside down. From a deep family secret to a two thousand year old murder, will Casey’s link with the Silver Wolf be enough to save them all?

Shadow Walker, A Sanctuary Novel, Book II Blurb:

Being the only were-tiger in a predominantly werewolf sanctuary wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but Amber Vaughn was glad to be able to rest easy. Emotionally and physically scarred from a traumatic childhood, her close relationship with the Alpha male and the incomparable bond she shares with his new mate, Casey, were unique. In five years, she’d gone from beat-down oppression to Braedyn Walker’s second in command. While not ruthless, her strength and speed had served their community well. Coming to terms with years of emotional turmoil, she found love, something she’d never considered possible, in the arms of a Guardian, Dean Maynard, Casey’s brother. An officer who polices supernatural, paranormal, and preternatural beings, his job was to protect the world from beings like her. A relationship between a human and a Were could work, even when not designed by the fates. Dean is attacked by a werewolf, and ready or not, Amber’s newfound love is yanked from her grasp. There is no way the fates would condone a union between a tiger and a wolf. Conflicted between her love, honor, and duty, does Amber have what it takes to handle the emotional turmoil or will she shut down again?

Publisher's Link for pre-order:

Barnes & Noble link for pre-order:



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Street Ivy

*This is based on a real person I met decades ago on the streets of Houston, Texas. The imagery and what little I learned has stayed with me since. Enjoy*

They called her Ivy. No one knew her real name, for the elderly, tiny, silver-haired woman rarely spoke.

But she always smiled. It was a joy-filled, toothless smile that brightened her always shining eyes in a wrinkled and aged face.

Ivy lived on the streets and was known as a cart keeper. Everything she owned packed in a worn, rusted shopping buggy with duct tape wrapped around the busted handle. The wheels were squeaky and one would perpetually spin to never help the other three carry the load. But Ivy was proud of her cart of "treasures".

Not a day went by that Ivy did not share the wealth of foraging for the most meager of items. Stale bread was broke with others without a meal that day. Sticky tossed candy handed out to the street children. A holey jacket plucked from the trash to someone shivering in the chill of night.

To Ivy, a treasure was never more valuable until it was given to someone who needed it more than you. So usually, by the time night fell, those three wheels with the rebellious fourth had very little to bear.

There was only one thing that Ivy never completely gave away from her cart.

It sat on the seat where normally a child would perch.

A potted Ivy. The plant sat in a cracked clay pot. The paint long gone and duct tape found there as well to prevent a crack from becoming worse. The plant had taken over the whole space atop the cart; its long vines twisted around the rusted bars, trailing down to the ground.

Ivy loved this plant. Every day she made sure it had time in the sun as she sat on a bench and told it stories and shared her secrets whispered with it. She made sure it received the cleanest water she could find. Sometimes dripped from the fountain through her arthritic grungy hands; her fingers, though shaky, bathing each leaf. At night, as Ivy sought out some place safe to sleep on the streets, she always made sure to keep her plant safe from frost while she curled up under an old, threadbare moving blanket exposed to all.

None us of us knew why Ivy loved this plant so. Just that when any of us shared news of a long needed job being obtained, or the news of getting even a simple room, a rat infested apartment (all huge steps up from living on the streets), Ivy would tenderly, carefully snap off a small piece of that precious plant and with that smile of an angel, press the piece in your hand, pat with her own and give you something to grow in your new home. And then shuffle away without a word.

I am proud to say that one day I was blessed with a piece of Ivy's love after living for over a two months that time in a car, stomach large with my first child. When Ivy pressed that sprig of ivy into my hand, the tears that sprung in my eyes were both joyous and humble at such a simple gift. I remembered how frail Ivy's hands felt in mine. And how warm and tender both her eyes and touch were. Even though her fingers shook, the strength of that woman's soul was rock steady.

Years went by and I eventually became a volunteer for a street feed team with a local church. I once again found myself in the part of town which I used to haunt as an invisible person. Very few of the faces were the same. The homeless are a sorrowful gypsies as well as tragic ladden by death, violence and illness.

But as I handed out blankets, sandwiches and other donated goods, I noticed something that once again brought tears to my eyes and reminded me to never forget...a treasure is never more cherished until it is given away.

Ivys grew in the strangest places. In window sills of the slum buildings.In old coffee cans and busted buckets. In carefully loved boxes...even an old boot.

I would find out that Ivy had passed away less than 6 months after I had left the streets that fall. The people of the streets wanted that beautiful soul...the same soul Ivy had poured into that plant...to live forever where that smile brightened up all their lives. So they had carefully taken a piece of her beloved ivy when the morgue had taken her body as she died sitting in the sun. No doubt whispering tales of her past to her leafy companion.The authorities had left her cart with her plant behind.

All that now fostered Street Ivy's plant's descendants carried on the tradition Ivy started and would giveaway a sprig when good luck blessed some.

Street Ivy would always live on in the hearts of those whose lives she touched.

And so would the hope she always gave with a smile.