Friday, September 26, 2014

The Story Behind Appaloosa Summer by Tudor Robins

Like many novels, Appaloosa Summer started with a kernel of truth, or fact, and grew from there. I started horseback riding as soon as my parents would let me; I was eight years old when I took my first lesson, and I loved it right away.

Riding, for me, was something done seriously and carefully. There were many safety, and etiquette rules to follow. I wanted to learn, to please my coach, and to win ribbons.

Then my family started spending part of our summers in a cottage on an island in the St. Lawrence River, and I got to ride in an entirely new way.

Our cottage was surrounded by a huge farm, with many horses, and kids about my age. In the morning I’d take a path through the trees to their barn, and everybody would grab a horse. Sometimes I’d end up with a huge Belgian, with feet the size of Frisbees, sometimes with a pony so small my legs almost dragged on the ground, and one summer I rode a mare whose foal followed us everywhere we went.

There were no rules, other than having fun, and no etiquette either. We galloped across fields, swam the horses in the river, took them on a small ferry to another island and, when we were thirsty, knocked on the closest door and asked for lemonade, since the farm kids were related to pretty much everybody around.

It was eye-opening for me, and I loved every minute of it.

The question for me, when writing Appaloosa Summer, was what would happen if a girl from the city came to a rural island for the whole summer? What if she became part of the community?

So, while the story is fiction, it’s based on that very personal experience of mine, and it grew from those “what if?” questions.

As to publishing it, this was a very special book to me, so I wanted to make sure it was accessible to as many readers as possible.

After publishing my first novel, Objects in Mirror, with a publishing house, I came to believe self-publishing Appaloosa Summer was the best way to make sure it was available all over the world, at an affordable price. I also felt it would give me the best chance to reach readers directly.

So far, that’s been my exact experience. Readers have been intelligent, thoughtful, and creative with their reviews of the book. It’s been a pleasure to read what they have to say, and to have a chance to connect with many of them, and I look forward to self-publishing the follow-up to Appaloosa Summer – Book Two of my Island Trilogy, tentatively titled Again, Someday.

About The Book:

Sixteen-year-old Meg Traherne has never known loss. Until the beautiful, talented horse she trained herself, drops dead underneath her in the show ring. Jared Strickland has been living with loss ever since his father died in a tragic farming accident. Meg escapes from her grief by changing everything about her life; moving away from home to spend her summer living on an island in the St. Lawrence River, scrubbing toilets and waiting on guests at a B&B. Once there, she meets Jared; doing his best to keep anything else in his life from changing. When Jared offers Meg a scruffy appaloosa mare out of a friend’s back field, it’s the beginning of a journey that will change both of them by summer’s end.

Appaloosa Summer can be compared to Heartland TV show - /

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About The Author:

Tudor Robins is an Ottawa-based young adult author whose first novel, Objects in Mirror, was named a Best Book for Kids and Teens by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

She gathered publishing-related experience in her roles as a magazine editor and publishing sales representative, as well as working in offset and digital printing. Tudor currently teaches writing workshops for adults and children, as well as developing writing contests and programming to motivate young writers.

Tudor loves reading, writing, and horseback riding, and spending time with her husband and two sons.

Appaloosa Summer is now available in paperback through Amazon, and can also be purchased in the Kindle store.

Receiving messages from readers is one of Tudor’s favorite things, so please feel free to visit her website and connect with her on Facebook.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

The Story Behind The Big Disrupter by Paul Markun

The story of why I dedicated two and a half years learning to write a thriller and rewriting The Big Disrupter three times until it was ‘right,’ is as much a story of why I stopped being an entrepreneur and business guy.

Why did a Formula One race car racer, like Niki Lauda in Rush, stop racing and start loving?

Why did actors decide to become politicians, from Ronald Reagan to Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Why did Bill Gates become a generous active philanthropist and leave tech behind?

One of the reasons is the joy in the challenge of something entirely new. In my case, having started and built several businesses, even a completely new market, product, service or category is . . . a lot like the last business. Writing a thriller, however, where the narrative is entirely from your own imagination, is completely different. So, the thrill of being terrified, lost, and then finding oneself is part of the reason.

Another reason behind The Big Disrupter is the simple artistic gratification of creating something that brings enduring enjoyment. The reality is many business products or services are tools or assets that are consumed deep in the machinery of survival. Sure, we’re glad we have them. Yet the high tech products and services I was part of are distant dots on a Moore’s Law curve even just a few years later. However I still pull out books my Mom wrote thirty years ago and hear her voice, learn, and laugh.

Fundamentally, throughout my life I have been stunned by the beauty, creativity, audacity, genius, arrogance, sexiness, kindness, ruthlessness and insanity of so many people. I’m drawn to unusual people. I’m shocked by usual people–marveling at their contentedness and lack of conflict in a happy, steady life. Building a story allows me to share some of these wonderful characters, whether I met them in mountain towns, over boardroom tables, in bars, or churches.

In the end, however, there is a dream along with the entertainment. My goal for The Big Disrupter is that some brave and wealthy philanthropists are motivated by the story and decide to fund their own billion-dollar prize for social entrepreneurs. In the end I think all of us want to make a difference, and there are a surprising number of uber wealthy who could put their imprint on something meaningful, if it suits their style and sensibility. I hope they create their own Big Disrupter.

About The Book:

An anonymous donor creates a prize for One Billion Dollars to inspire social entrepreneurs to promote world change. Lionel Lane, an idealistic entrepreneur, partners with his brilliant ex-girlfriend Maxine Gold to turn around his struggling San Francisco - based company Double Vision Beverages to compete for the Big Disrupter Award. With the help of a venture capitalist and an eccentric financier, Double Vision expands into energy drinks using the pure water from the mountains of Telluride, Colorado. Talented 21-year-old extreme skier, Reddi Christiansen, becomes the face of their quest for the youth market. One by one the leading competitors in the Big Disrupter fall victim to unexplained tragedies. The police are mystified. The prize for social good becomes a death trap, but too rich to resist. Desperate for protection, Lionel, Maxine and Reddi enlist a former Navy Seal cyber guru. The faster they race towards the approaching award deadline, the more the escalating dangers threaten to spin them off a cliff.

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About The Author: 

Paul Markun grew up an entrepreneur and dreamer, starting with his first paper route at age nine in the Canal Zone of Panama. Living in Telluride, Colorado, he started four companies with best friends before he was 24, including Fly By Night Builders, The Illusions Company, High Country Trekkers–you get the idea; great names, cool ideas, not much income. He moved to Silicon Valley, got more education and tech experience, and started SoftIRON Systems and Fullspeed Networks, and rode the wave of the late 1990s to success. He sold SoftIRON Systems to the Williams Company (WilTel), a Fortune 300 company. In 2001 his company Fullspeed was acquired by Callisma, which became Pac Bell and then AT&T. You know them, right? In the first decade of the 2000s, he joined fellow entrepreneurs to lead marketing for Netcordia, which later IPO’d as Infoblox (NYSE:BLOX). He also ran marketing for Sitecore, a web software company, growing it 10 X from an $8 million fledgling niche provider to an established global corporation. Paul continues to be involved with emerging companies to this day. Paul met his wife Rachel, an attorney, when he was 18 and she was even younger at the University of Chicago. Their fountains of inspiration are their two sons and a daughter. A passionate story teller, he turned his energies to writing about topics and characters close to his own heart.His first novel is The Big Disrupter.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Story Behind Slow Satisfaction by Cecilia Tan

Slow Satisfaction is the final book in the Struck by Lightning trilogy. It's my first book with a "Big Six" major New York publisher since the 1990s. The way I hooked up with them is sort of funny. 

I self-published my first book back in 1992: it's BDSM science fiction erotica entitled Telepaths Don't Need Safewords. At the time I had to self-publish because BDSM was something most publishers wouldn't touch. By 1998 I had grown enough notoriety that HarperCollins, one of the major publishers, published my collection of erotic short stories, Black Feathers. 

But publishing got conservative again in 2000 when Bush (W) was elected, even though the public appetite for BDSM and kink continued to rise. Fast forward to 2012 and it's no wonder 50 Shades of Grey exploded, since demand for kinky material always kept rising but publishers had been refusing to touch the subject for so long. After 50 Shades, though, they couldn't ignore it any more, and thankfully they came back to me, the author they'd been saying was "too kinky" and "too edgy" for so long. (It helped that my literary agent pushed me to them, too.) 

When I wrote the initial proposal for Slow Surrender, I went in knowing that the vast majority of readers would have already read 50 Shades of Grey. So my idea was to take a similar starting place, with an inexperienced female and a dominant male, and then to take it in my own direction. And that's pretty much what I did! Hachette's Grand Central/Forever romance line bought it and wanted a full trilogy, so I worked with an editor there to develop an even longer and richer story, with more twists and turns. It's been a fantastic success. The first book in the series, Slow Surrender, won the RT Award for Erotic Romance, and now Slow Satisfaction, the final culmination of James and Karina's story, is finally hitting the shelves.

It's funny because in the 22 years since I wrote Telepaths Don't Need Safewords I've grown and changed, the industry has grown and changed, and the way the public views BDSM has grown and changed, but what hasn't changed is the deeply erotic dynamic between dominant male and submissive female that made Slow Satisfaction such a treat to write.

About The Book: 

The sizzling conclusion of the Struck by Lightning trilogy! The story that began with the RT Award-winning Slow Surrender finally brings us all satisfaction. James has finally pushed Karina beyond her limit–not her limit for kinky sex play, but for his extreme secrecy. She has had enough and breaks things off.

But James won’t give up on Karina and he will do whatever it takes to get her back. He’s ready to share his deepest, darkest secrets, but is Karina ready to hear them? When James is blackmailed by an unscrupulous music industry executive, he must give in to unreasonable demands or risk exposure of his and Karina’s secret sex life… a sex life that keeps getting hotter! Will Karina and James’s love be strong enough to withstand the many obstacles being thrown their way?

About the Author:

Cecilia Tan is "simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature," according to Susie Bright. Her BDSM romance novel Slow Surrender (Hachette/Forever, 2013) won the RT Reviewers Choice Award in Erotic Romance. Tan is the author of many books, including the ground-breaking erotic short story collections Black Feathers (HarperCollins), White Flames (Running Press), and Edge Plays (Circlet Press), and the erotic romances Slow Surrender, Slow Seduction, and Slow Satisfaction (Hachette/Forever), The Prince's Boy (Circlet Press), The Hot Streak (Riverdale Avenue Books), and the Magic University series (Riverdale Avenue Books). Her short stories have appeared in Ms. Magazine, Nerve, Best American Erotica, Asimov's Science Fiction, and tons of other places. She was inducted into the Saints & Sinners Hall of Fame for GLBT writers in 2010, was a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Leather Association in 2004, and won the inaugural Rose & Bay Awards for Best Fiction in 2010 for her crowdfunded web fiction serial Daron's Guitar Chronicles. She lives in the Boston area with her lifelong partner corwin and three cats. Find out more at

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