Friday, January 27, 2012

REBECCA YORK: Become A Writer? No Way!

My guest is USA Best Selling romance author, Rebecca York. Those of you who have read her wonderful stories know she writes, romance, suspense, and paranormal. Very talented lady. Rebecca has written a new detective series, Decorah Security. I have the opportunity to read (Squeee!) and review these three stories. Dark Moon is the first in this series and where I'm starting. So stay tuned for them. I love the touch of paranormal in these.

As prolific an author as Rebecca is, there was a time the idea of writing the stories playing out in her head was an impossibility in her mind. Why? I'll let Rebecca tell you about that.

Welcome, Rebecca! I've enjoyed your books over the years. I'm so glad to have you visiting today!

Sia, thanks so much for having me.

I’m the person who thought she could never become a writer.  Since I’m dyslexic, I had a hard time learning to read (partly because they were only teaching the memorize-the-whole-word method), and I’m a terrible speller.  Stories buzzed around in my head, and I acted them out with my dolls, but I never thought I could become a writer because I got slammed for my deficiencies by so many teachers.  (I’m the kid who was called up to the front of the room so the teacher could yell at her in front of the whole class.)

Kids react to that kind of treatment in various ways.  It hurt, but it also made me stronger and determined to succeed.

After I got married and had children of my own, I wanted a part-time job.  When I took a seminar at my local community college aimed at women who looking to enter the work force, I kept coming out high in writing interest.  Also, one thing they emphasized in the seminar was that if you wanted to work part-time, you’d have to go out and dig up a your own job.

Which led me to my idea of writing a newspaper article about the seminar.  Luckily for me, my husband volunteered to correct my spelling and typos.  And luckily for me, he’s been proofreading for me ever since.

It took me about twenty-five hours to write that article, but I sold it to a local paper and went on to write hundreds more articles.  I read some of them in a writing seminar at the same community college.  Other people in the class were writing novels, and I wanted to try one, too.  But the idea of working on such a large project scared me.  I told myself that a chapter of a book was no longer than the articles I’d been writing.  At the same time, I decided to make sure I could plot at least a quarter of the story before I started writing.  Even back then, I was more comfortable outlining before I jumped into the writing.

I wrote my first book, a children’s science fiction novel called INVASION OF THE BLUE LIGHTS (now available as an e-book), in that seminar.  I read chapters in the class and revised.  Then I revised a lot more before I sent the book out.  It was rejected four times, until an editor at Scholastic held it for nine months before sending me a two-page single-spaced revision letter.  I was smart enough to know that was a good letter and revised the manuscript according to her suggestions (adding some new scenes of my own). She bought it, and I became a published author.

I’ve been writing actively for the past–um–40 years.  And I’ve been very lucky in my career.  I went from kids’ science fiction to romance, to romantic suspense, to paranormal romantic suspense (with a significant side trip into cookbooks).  Recently, I’ve also written a couple of fantasy historical novellas for Carina Press.  DARK MAGIC was out last year, and SHATTERED MAGIC will be out in late summer.

I can see the publishing industry changing.  There’s more opportunity for authors to follow their own bliss rather than write to a publisher’s specifications.  In line with that observation, my most exciting recent project has been a new detective series called Decorah Security.  I’m putting the stories out myself on Amazon, and other e-book outlets

I wanted to launch with three titles.  While I was writing two Harlequin Intrigues (SUDDEN INSIGHT, out in January, and SUDDEN ATTRACTION, out in February), I wrote a Decorah novel, DARK MOON, a novella, CHAINED, and a short story, AMBUSHED.  They’re all tied to a security agency run by a crusty old Navy Seal, Frank Decorah.  His agents have paranormal powers or take on paranormal cases. (Each of them are linked to Amazon where you can read the blurb and purchase) 

All three are available wherever e-books are sold.

I’m also currently working on an exciting new romantic suspense series.  Because it’s still under wraps, I can’t say much about it yet.

  • How do you feel about the e-book market?  
  • Are you trying out some of the books available electronically?

Sudden Attraction 
They were never supposed to meet. Hidden on a New Orleans plantation were secrets Gabriella Bodreaux was never supposed to uncover, either. And after Luke Buckley saved her life, she couldn't get him out of her head...and she couldn't get out of his. 
At the slightest touch, they established the most intimate connection of their lives. So vulnerable, so right. Now they knew everything about each other—almost. 
He came with a secret identity, but wasn't the type of man who would run away from trouble. He could keep her safe. But when being together meant exposing themselves to more danger than either could prepare for, they had to reconsider just how "chance" their meeting really was....Excerpt 

Do check out  Sudden Insight and read the excerpt.

Buy: Amazon  Barnes and Noble, eHarlequin


Ever since she can remember, Rebecca York has loved making up stories full of adventure, romance, and suspense. As a child she corralled her friends into adventure games or acted out romantic suspense stories with a cast of dolls. But she never assumed she could be an author because she couldn't spell. Her life changed dramatically with the invention of the word processor and spelling checker--and the help of her husband, Norman Glick, who spots spelling errors from fifty paces away.

She and her husband live in Columbia, Maryland. They have two grown children, Elissa (a librarian) and Ethan (a Foreign Service Officer), and two grandsons, Jesse and Leo. Rebecca holds a B. A. in American Thought and Civilization from The George Washington University and an M. A. in American Studies from The University of Maryland. She heads the Columbia Writers Workshop.
Find Rebecca: Website (which is worth checking out1) Facebook, Twitter.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Karak Chai (recipe above in recipe tab)

My guest is multicultural author Zvezdana Rashkovich. She lived for many years in Portland, Oregon but her roots are Croatian/Serbian. Zvesdana's led a nomadic life both as a child and as an adult. She and her husband are currently posted in Dubai.

Zvezdana speaks of her road to publication. It's a fascinating story. Zvezdana will be checking in but keep in mind the time difference between Dubai and here.

When I was younger I had an inexhaustible faith in all things. I thought my life would turn out exactly as I planned. Some of it did, but other imaginings became distant memories of a young girl. On many long idle days I would daydream by the banks of the Blue Nile…surrounded by the soothing hum of the river, the swish of cornstalks my stepfather had planted and by the tender warmth of African sunshine. Before Africa there was the Balkans…the land of my grandfathers…the comforting bosom of my grandmother.

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t want to write. Maybe my mother’s dramatic imagination, her quest for answers in distant places and among unfamiliar cultures led me to believe that it was my idea. When in fact, it had been hers all along, nourishing my mind, guiding and prodding. Her own unconcluded dreams somehow transferred…onto her daughter.

In any case I wrote. First little things. This and that. I wrote in Serbo Croat and when I learned English in a private school in Tripoli, Libya words poured out easier in that language.

Throughout my teens, I wrote. Still have those stories…some that surprise me because they were so well researched. But always stories of girls and women challenged by some unknown location, a place they had to adapt to…to learn to love. Only later would I realize that these girlish scribbling were my way of coping with displacement, with isolation and estrangement from my own homeland after my mother married my Sudanese stepfather, thus creating an irreversible course in my life.

As time passed I stopped sitting by the Nile and instead got distracted by other events. Michael Jackson, Madonna, the boys who honked at us in front of our all- girls’ Catholic school in Khartoum…my disintegrating family life as my stepfather left my mother, me and my two very young siblings. On a neglected farm…with little money and much heartache on our part.  I wrote enormously long entries in my diary during that period. I still read them today and blush at some of the absurdity, worries and made-up scenarios that had frightened me.

I got married and moved to the USA. The city of Portland in Oregon possessed a charm suited to my character at the time. It wasn’t as multicultural as my previous life in the Sudan had been. But I was taken by the city’s literary vibe, by the down to earth residents, the thriving art scene and the rainy foggy days…subsequently conducive to the activities of reading and writing.

As I raised four children, attended college, worked as a legal and medical interpreter in the USA, that old craving still niggled at me. It flickered on and off like a neon sign at the back of my mind. Write it said in persistent yellow letters.

When my oldest child left to university, I got a new computer and desk, and settled them by my bedroom window in Dubai. Then, just like that, overnight it seemed…it happened. I started writing a novel.
The realization that my lifelong quest was finally taken seriously, that I was doing that which I previously only dreamt of was exhilarating but riddled with awkward, tricky obstacles of which I was not previously aware. To write a ‘first’ full-length novel was not as easy as I had envisioned. It was an extraordinary but also gut-wrenchingly demanding journey on which I had embarked equipped with passion only.

Compounded with a busy life…children, husband, and all the other things that fill our existence…it seemed insurmountable. Many thought it must be the hormones; the middle age crisis or that I had unreachable aspirations. Those who knew me well though, never doubted me. Encouraged, supported, and loved by my mother, children and husband I plodded on. One word at a time.

My first novel, Dubai Wives, was a labor of visualizing such a story, planning, and observing. The characters were born out of a lifetime of immersion in a multicultural, multifaith existence, juxtaposed against the contradictory attitudes and lifestyles of Dubai.

A product of a nomadic background…a divided sense of identity…of third culture…I am fascinated, moved by stories of lives changed by their displacement, their yearning to belong…to adapt.

By those subtle and intricate threads that bind and unite us wherever we happen to be on this planet.

  • Readers: 
  • How have you dealt with the feeling of displacement? Perhaps moving to a different state or country, as a child, or adult, for a job, adventure, or military service? 
  • What common ties have you seen regardless of where you live?

Dubai: Here, many say, anything is possible. 
It’s a world of clashes, of contrasts. Incredible wealth and beauty coexist with unexpected poverty and heart wrenching wickedness. 
Spectacular palaces hide within, surrounded by their flawlessly landscaped gardens, shining domes, and dancing fountains. Possessively tucked away and watched over by grim security guards behind walls and ornate engraved iron gates. 
These walls are necessary because they guard their occupant’s secrets… 

Dubai Wives weaves a complex multicultural tale of unraveling secrets and diverse, flawed characters. The lives of eight women collide in this opulent, culturally vibrant city on a journey of sisterhood, friendship, love, betrayal and the heartbreaking choices of its residents.
We see Jewel, a beautiful but frustrated wife to her powerful Emirati husband, and Tara, a devout Muslim with a passionate secret, and Liliana, a tragic dancer in the seedy clubs of Dubai. A stirring tale encompassing, tradition, identity, and faith, Dubai Wives takes the reader into the hidden world behind the walls of lavish mansions and into the back alleys of Dubai, from the hills of Morocco to the glittering lights of the Burj Al Arab. It paints a portrait of a world where no one is who they seem to be...and where everything is possible. EXCERPT

BUY: AMAZON, AMAZON.caBARNES and NOBLEChapters Indigo, ca

I was born in Croatia to a Croatian mother and Serbian father. My mother married a Sudanese when I was seven and their mutual fascination with travel and adventure led us all on a series of travels and expat posting first to Libya, then Iraq.

Later, we settled in Sudan after an overland trip by ship, car and train across Eastern Europe, Egypt and the Sahara. Here started my introduction and fascination with multiculture and particularly with the Arab world.

Immersed in my stepfather's family, culture, religion and language I was fortunate to attend an International Catholic school for girls, attended by a beautiful vibrant community of multicultural and multi-faith students.

When I was twenty two I married a Sudanese/Egyptian and we moved to the United States in a quest for education, ended up staying for a decade and started our family at the foothills and forests of Mt. Hood in Oregon.

Middle East beckoned us again due to its proximity to our families back in Sudan, Egypt, Croatia and Serbia. We wanted our children to grow up understanding more of who they are and where they come from.

Thus begun our fifteen year stint in the Gulf. First in Qatar, which I love dearly and still call home, and then Dubai, a vibrant city of many possibilites and contradictions.  
I am a mom to four gorgeous third culture children, wife, and sister to four amazing multiracial siblings...daughter of an extaordinary woman.

I am an Adult Third Culture Kid, freelance writer, blogger, teacher and Interpreter...I am also the author of a novel 'Dubai Wives' which was a product of my observations and fascination with identity, culture, biracialism and the hidden passions, aspirations and dreams that drive women in particular and people in general.

Currently, I am working on a novel 'Africa in the way I dance' set in 1970's Sudan. The novel, based partly on my life growing up on a farm by the Nile aims to portray the marvelous complexity of that fascinating country and its people as told through the eyes of a thirteen year old European girl.

Find Zvezdana: Website, Facebook