Thursday 25 February 2010

Interview with Janie Franz , author of The Bowdancer Saga

Today, author Janie Franz stops by on her virtual book tour for a little chat.  We discuss her new fantasy series, The Bowdancer Saga, the first volume in the series, The Bowdancer, and the particulars of writing fiction.  Don't forget to comment, one lucky person will win a free copy of her book.

Come and share some fantasy and a touch of romance from a great new voice in fiction.

Interview with Janie Franz , author of The Bowdancer Saga:

1.  Let’s start with a brief description of The Bowdancer.

My book blurb describes the book this way: Jan-nell, a young healer and keeper of village lore, despairs of ever finding the child who will be the next bowdancer or a man worthy enough to love. It is set in another world that could be mistaken for a very primitive Europe. It deals with roles and choices—and, of course, love.

2.  Where did the idea/inspiration for the story originate?

That is really interesting because Jan-nell came to me in a meditation, fully formed, shooting a flaming arrow across the night sky. While in meditation, I asked her questions about who she was and why she seemed sad. That became the background and motivations for her character. The story of her village and her place in it unfolded as I wrote the novella. And, Bastin, the bandit who rides into her life, became part of her conflict.

3.  Do you have a favourite character, and if you do, why?

Jan-ell, of course, is my favorite, but she, like many other authors’ main characters, is part of the author. We sort of live through our characters. I have really enjoyed some of the people that Jan-nell has come to know and love. I was especially fond of the women in Warrior Women and actually cried when I finished that book.

4.  Did you find it challenging to create the world of The Bowdancer?

Creating Jan-nell’s world was actually easier than I had imagined it might be. I think that is because her world is partly one I would have liked to live in, a world that is far more simple than our own, where people lived off the land. I did have to work out some different landscapes and climates and try to make them consistent. My biggest challenge in The Lost Song has been broadening Jan-nell’s world and finding other landscapes and cultures.

5.  What kind of research did you do for the story? Is the world based on any particular culture?

The cultures in The Bowdancer Saga are not based on any one particular culture. I’ve tried to be very careful and not co-opt anyone’s lifeways or religion. There are some similarities with ancient Europeans, some Norse cultures, some American Indian groups, and even North African peoples. But most readers won’t recognize them directly—or at least I hope they don’t. But I do think they might find some of the lifeways to be familiar at least.

I did do some considerable herb research for the last three books. Though my foremothers wildcrafted plants from the Appalachians for medicinal uses, I just grow and use a lot of culinary herbs myself. I have also consulted with my son, who is the executive chef and part owner of a high-end martini bistro here.

I would like to make note that the books in The Bowdancer Saga are heavily influenced by songs. The Bowdancer hints at them, while some of the other books in the series have them figured more prominently. My husband, who is a singer/songwriter, checks some of the doggerel I’ve written to see if it hold together enough for a song. So, far they have. And, he’s also working with me to create a companion group of songs from The Bowdancer Saga. Some he’ll just put to music, and some he will create outright because they are talked about often. We haven’t decided whether that will be a CD or mp3s we can offer for download for a bonus.

6.  Did you feel having a female protagonist was essential for your fantasy romance? Do you feel more comfortable writing the female point-of-view?

Jan-nell, the bowdancer, is the cornerstone of The Bowdancer Saga. It is important that readers see the world through her eyes. She allows us to process the new people she meets and the experiences she has through the filter of her culture, which is very different from nearly everyone else’s she meets.

I am more comfortable writing from a woman’s point of view. But I think for The Bowdancer Saga it is critical that everything is filtered through this particular woman because the series plays with concepts of gender, roles, family, and lifeways.

7.   Did you encounter problems when writing The Bowdancer, or was it an effortless writing experience?

The Bowdancer nearly wrote itself. But I had done that several years ago. I had written the first chapter of The Wayfarer’s Road and jotted down some notes shortly after The Bowdancer was written. When I picked up my notes and began The Wayfarer’s Road, I sort of knew how it would end, but I had no idea what would happen in the middle. That emerged as I wrote and began to fill out a skeletal outline as the first two or three chapters were fleshed out. From that story, I got the idea for Warrior Women and from that book came the idea for The Lost Song.

It had been sometime since I’d plunged into fiction writing, except for a short story here and there that never was circulated to publishers. I had quite forgotten how much the writing experience was a spiritual one. What I mean by that is that sometimes I’d look down at my hands on the keyboard and see the words pouring forth and I’d wonder where they came from. But more than that it was diving deep into the world I had created, eager to find out what would happen next. Since I was working with basically chapter titles as an outline (Those titles were never used, by the way.), I just knew the direction I was going, but I didn’t know the details.

There is a real stepping into the creative flow that I experienced. It reminded me of a painter I know who turned away from his work when it was done and looked back in wonder to see what had been created while he had been in the flow. That was sort of how I felt about writing this series.

When I was writing Warrior Women, I purposely delayed writing a juicy scene that was going to be the climax of the story. I wanted to get into that scene so badly, but I kept myself from writing it. Because I delayed that writing, when it came time for that scene, it became a totally different experience and made for a better ending that the one I had in mind.

8.  Which aspect of the book did you enjoy writing the most, the fantasy or the romance?

I must confess I’m not a romance reader. I have reviewed maybe a handful of romance novels out of over 300 books I’ve reviewed in the past five years. I don’t like boy-meets-girl stories when that’s all there is there. I’m not crazy about reading love scenes either. In fact, most of the time when I read a good mystery or thriller, I’ll skim those parts. I just don’t find them interesting.

But I do like stories about relationships and that have some kind of romantic tension between the characters. It’s like with X-Files. There was all this romantic tension between Muldar and Scully. When they finally kissed, the shows ratings plummeted. There is something to be said about anticipation.

That said, I did find myself getting into the romance parts of these stories. And, frankly, all of them deal with relationships in some way. However, I am finding out that what I think is graphic is really a mainstream love scene. When my book was picked up by Breathless Press, they added a new heat category: Sweet Confections. That category describes traditional romance and some mainstream love scenes.

I do enjoy building Jan-nell’s world and creating the cultures there. But it is the interplay of the people she cares about that I find interesting and allows me to explore those questions of roles and family and gender.

9. Are there any more Bowdancer stories forthcoming?

Yes, there are at least three more. The second book, The Wayfarer’s Road, and the third, Warrior Women, are finished and will be released soon. I’m writing the fourth, The Lost Song, which I hope will become one of my favorite types of books—the map quest.

I’ve always been fascinated by adventure stories that deal with clues, maps, and codes. I remember reading The Diamond Cave Mystery by Troy Nesbit when I was a little girl. It was one of the few books I ever saw my dad read, and he shared it with me. It was a boy’s book about finding a treasure in a cave using clues from the Bible. That got me hooked, not only on books like that but on adventure movies. So, naturally I am a fan of the Indiana Jones films, the Mummy series, the Librarian TV movies, National Treasure, and Sahara. I just hope I do proper homage to them in The Lost Song.

Janie Franz still calls herself a Southerner (she was born in Tennessee) though she has spent more than half her life living in North Dakota. She holds a degree in anthropology and has an unquenchable curiosity, which may explain the broadness of her journalism credits that include regional, national, and international publications. She has co-written two books with Texas wedding DJ, Bill Cox (The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book and The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book), and has published a writing manual, Freelance Writing: It’s a Business, Stupid! She is also a prolific book and music reviewer, and runs her own online music publication, Refrain Magazine.

She has been a radio announcer, a booking agent for a groove/funk band, and a yoga/relaxation instructor. She has been happily married to a singer/songwriter for almost four decades. They have a daughter who is a fiber artist and is married to an animator, and a son who is the executive chef of The Toasted Frog, a high-end martini bistro, and who plays drums and blues harmonica with local bands.
The Bowdancer is her first published work of fiction.
The Bowdancer Saga

Janie Franz, author of “The Bowdancer” (2009) published by Breathless Press:
Jan-nell, a young healer and keeper of village lore, despairs of ever finding the child who will be the next bowdancer or a man worthy enough to love. 

If the interview whetted your appetite for more, check out Janie's other tour stops.  And be sure to join me back here on March 4 for my book review of The Bowdancer.

Janie Franz is currently on a two-week virtual book tour with Novel Works. February 22 – March 6, 2010.

Janie Franz’s Tour Stops
2/22/10  Interview with author Janie Franz on Novel Works -
2/23/10 The Changing Market of E-books on Book Madness - 
 2/24/10 My Writing Journey on Novel Works -
2/25/10 Interview with author Janie Franz on A. F. Stewart's Blog-
2/26/10 "The Bowdancer" Midwest Book Review on Novel Works-
2/27  Falling In Love With Your Characters on Janie Franz’s blog-
3/1/10  Interview with Jan-nel from the Bowdancer Saga series on Novel Works-
3/2/10  Janie Franz's Live interview with Kim Smith on Introducing Writers - Blogtalk Radio-
3/3/10 The Virtual Tour Experience on Janie Franz’s blog-
3/4/10 A. F. Stewart book review of "The Bowdancer"
3/5/10 Interview with author Janie Franz:  Penny Ehrenkranz's One Writer's Journey-
3/6/10 Jan-nell the Bowdancer’s Conflicts Color Her Goals and Motivations on Susan Whitfield’s Blog-

Saturday 20 February 2010

March will be "Review Month" on my blog.

I've gotten a bit backed up on some of the reviews I've agreed to do for various authors, so I'm going to set aside the month of March to spotlight my book reviews.

Books I've definitely booked for review in March:

I also hope to get to two other sci-fi novels Beautiful Red and Self Made by M. Darusha Wehm (spotlights for these books will be showing up soon on my Sci-fi Examiner Page).

And if I'm feeling very ambitious I may squeeze in one or two others I've been meaning to read.

Sunday 14 February 2010

A Little Sunshine (Award) in February

My friend and fellow Canadian, Joylene Nowell Butler, bestowed on me this last week the Sunshine Award.
A big thanks to Joylene for thinking of me.

Here are the rules for accepting the Sunshine Award:
  •   Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
  •   Pass the award onto 12 bloggers.
  •   Link the nominees within your post.
  •   Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
  •   Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

Here's my picks (in no particular order) for classy people and their engaging blogs:

  1. Minnette's  Worlds- Real or Imagined 
  2. Rhetta's Blog
  3. Dark Phantom Review 
  4. The Pen and Muse  
  5. Authors Promoting Authors 
  6. Curiously Twisted (this blog has just started, but is run by a deserving person, Dara England)
  7. Author's Studio 
  8. Sheila Deeth
  9. Random Musings 
  10. Deb's Book Reviews
  11. Robin Cain 
  12. Beth Groundwater 

A great bunch all.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Chat with the Author of "Dead, Undead or Something In Between"

Paranormal fans, I have a treat for you.
Today's Guest is J. A. Saare, who shares the juicy secrets about her writing in a wonderful interview.   She also shares an excerpt from her book, Dead, Undead or Something In Between.
Don't forget to comment, for a chance to win a $10 gift certificate.

 Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between:

One bad corpse can ruin your whole day. No one knows that better than Rhiannon Murphy.
She’s left behind the flash and sass of Miami for the no-nonsense groove of New York City, eager for a clean slate and a fresh start. A bartender by trade, a loud mouth by choice, and a necromancer by chance; she’s managed to keep her nifty talent hidden from those around her – until now.
The deliciously good-looking vampire Disco knows her secret, and when he strolls into her bar to solicit help investigating the mysterious disappearances of his kind from the city, she discovers he’s not the kind of person that appreciates the significance of the word no.
But in a world where vampires peddle their blood as the latest and greatest drug of choice, it’s only a matter of time before the next big thing hits the market. Someone or something is killing vampires to steal their hearts, and unlike Rhiannon, this isn’t their first stroll around the undead block.

 Interview with J. A. Saare

1.    Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself?
Well, let’s see… Before I became a mother and wife, my aspiration was to become an elementary school teacher. Of course, life happened and changed my plans.  I’m still pretty much the same the same person, aside from the fact that I have a bundle of children and embraced the creative portion of myself that I once kept locked away.

2.    How long have you been writing? Did you always desire to make it your line of work?
In high school and college I wrote poetry and attempted a few stories which were never completed.  I love to read and the idea of creating a story with characters of my own was incredibly appealing. Nothing came of it, however, as I was working two jobs, attending school, and struggling to pay the bills.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I started getting the itch again. Only this time, I didn’t stop or berate the work (or even consider the possibility of publication).  There was no expectation; I was writing entirely for me.  I think that was the turning point.  I had to stop worrying about whether someone would like what I produced and just let go.  The story came to life as a result.

3.    Tell us a little something about your book, Dead, Undead, or Something In Between.
Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between is about Rhiannon Murphy, a woman who left behind a tainted past in Miami for a fresh start in New York. She’s seen the spirits of the dead ever since she was a child, starting with the next door neighbor who died of a heart attack.  She doesn’t particularly like seeing the recently deceased, but has learned to live with it, and keeps her ability hidden from those around her. 
One night while hustling some nine-ball her secret comes out to some of the worst people imaginable – vampires. She quickly breaks down her cue and leaves, hoping she escaped notice.  When they show up at her place of employment, asking for her help, she learns it’s not a request. As a newbie necromancer on the scene, she’s struggles to acclimate to her increasing powers while uncovering the mystery of missing vampires in the area.

4.    What do you enjoy most about writing in the paranormal genre?
I love the fact that the sky is the limit.  I always set rules for the worlds I create and try to keep the characters as normal as possible, but with the paranormal, there are varying directions to take.  That means you always have an out and anything is possible. 
To be fair, I also have a yen for werewolves, vampires, and things that come out when the sun goes down.  I can’t seem to stay away from them.

5.    Did anything surprise you about the process of writing your book?
The amount of time it would take to guide Rhiannon through the streets of New York, without question.  Who knew there were so many ways to travel, all of which is determined on exactly where you want to go?  Thank goodness for my friend, Anthony, who lived in Queens at the time.  I printed out maps, got on the phone with him, and spent hours talking things over. 
Next time, I’ll make sure to have a better understanding of the geography before I take the plunge!

6.    What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
Finding time. This wasn’t an issue a year ago, but it is a huge one now.  With promotion, advertising, blog visits, editing, and numerous other responsibilities at home, there is hardly time left to sit down and get any actual writing done. 
At times, it’s frustrating, but I understand it’s a part of the process. 

7.    How do you research your books?
If I know I’m going to tackle something I’m not familiar with, I’ll begin research before I put anything to paper.  Of course, that’s an ideal situation, and isn’t the norm.  When you’re a pantser (as I’m prone to be) ideas come from nowhere and redirect the story.
Normally, I start out my with a list of things I need and take it from there. The library is a great place to visit, but the vast WWW is usually one-stop shopping.  Depending on the material, I’ll spend weeks or months getting everything I need. 

8.    What advice would you give beginning writers?
My answer is something those far greater than me have said, but I say it again because it’s true – keep writing.  Don’t ever stop.  It takes time to hone your craft.  The more you write, the better you will become. The desire to get to the finish line is always there and never diminishes, but don’t fret, it won’t vanish into the oblivion. If you stumble, get back up, dust yourself off, and keep going. 

9.    Who has inspired you as an author?
When I started writing, it was authors like Kresley Cole, J.R. Ward, Christine Feehan, Elizabeth Lowell, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, and Jim Butcher. Then, I became acquainted with e-pub authors, and it opened up my eyes to an entirely different world.
There are so many talented writers who are trying to make it, and speaking with them has inspired me to keep going, believe in myself, and keep writing.  I’d have to say they are my inspiration and keep things in perspective.

10.    What’s the next project for you?
Up next is Crimson Moon, a full-length paranormal romance which will release at The Wild Rose Press on June 25th.  I’m currently working on edits for Eternity and a Day, an erotic romance with elements of fantasy and the paranormal, and expect that to release early this year at Loose Id. After those are wrapped up, I hope to complete several projects, including a new UF series tentatively titled The Company of Wolves. 

Thanks for having me by the blog!

You can visit me on my websites:,, or my blog
I’m also on Twitter, @jasaare, Facebook at, and always respond to emails:

 You can find all the author's tour stops here: 

Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between Excerpt:

My shoulders drooped in defeat. Of all the shitty luck.
The only way my life could get worse is if I got my throat ripped out.  Coincidentally, I was due to leave my place of employment and enter into a darkened alley to meet up with a vampire. So the odds weren’t stacked in my favor. Not at all.
My boots squeaked on the linoleum as I strode past the coat rack, walked down the hall, and entered the narrow concrete hallway. The big steel door at the end distorted, appearing too close and then too far, invoking images of The Shining. I finally reached it and limply grasped the knob.
I stood there, fingers loose and flaccid. Once I turned the knob, I was sealing my fate. My pride wouldn’t stand for beating on the door and screaming like a pansy to be allowed back inside. I exerted my backbone, grasped the knob, and twisted. The door opened with a protest of metal against metal.
I scanned the area quickly and then sagged in relief. The alley was empty. Thank you God, hallelujah! The door slammed shut behind me as I rushed down the narrow street. I was dodging a bullet, and I knew it.
The moon wasn’t out but the streetlights lit the way decently enough, the circular swells of white shining bright against the darkened concrete. The air was slightly chilly, sending prickles along my skin. I’d have to break out the jeans and sweaters soon.
I hooked a right, keeping my ecstatic pace, until I glanced up.
Disco was propped casually against the wall, his broad back braced against the red bricks. He was standing beneath a nearby street light that shone off his hair, the pale honey blond intense. Pulling out a cigarette and lighting up, he waited as I approached. I watched the red tip brighten as he took a long puff, lifted his head, and exhaled slowly into the darkened night.
So much for dodging a bullet.
Some girls get to be prom queen, others get a perfect SAT score, but not me. I was the biggest winner on The Price Is Right, and Johnny just told me to come on down.

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