Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Greatest Books I'll Never Read Again

Some novels are crafted so wonderfully that I want to read them more than once. Plainsong by Kent Haruf is one of these - the style is spare and lyrical at the same time. Plus, the way Haruf creates a strange little family from such an ill-assorted crew of characters is breath-taking. Jane Eyre is another, simply because I love Jane so much. Born plain and penniless, she is still one of the strongest women in fiction. 

There are some books, however, that are incredible and wonderful and yet I will never reread them. These are the top three of that list:

1.The Road, by Cormac McCarthy - When I started reading this book, everything else disappeared. I got sucked into the story of the man and the boy traveling across the face of a strange, post Apocalyptic America with only a shopping cart, and I had to find out what happened to them. Of course, what does occur is dreadful - McCarthy offers no comfort in his work, as anyone who read No Country for Old Men knows. As the boy keeps saying, there are some things you can't unsee.

2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - I finished this novel at three in the morning because I just couldn't stop reading. Even though it was so late, I had to go and see my daughter and give her sleeping face a big kiss after reading Suns. I wouldn't call this a classic; it's not in the same category as The Road or Plainsong, but it's very good fiction nonetheless. Hosseini is famous for The Kite Runner - also addictive reading - but I much preferred this book. The dream scene where Laila buries her daughter alive is vivid and shocking. It's why I had to go and kiss that face.

3. My friend just lent me The God of Small Things, and I read it in a few days. After I finished it, I was in despair - hack writer that I am, I will never, ever, be able to write like that. Arundhati Roy reinvents the way a story can be told, turning it inside out like a Moebius strip, with beautifully reoccurring images (the time "ten to two" comes to mind) and an ending that breathes horror and beauty in one word. And it is dreadful, too - what the Orangedrink Lemondrink man does to little Estha is terrible - and then it gets far, far worse. 

It takes courage, I think, to write books as terrible and wonderful as these - it's much easier to write simple, fun little stories like mine. My books might be pulp fiction (and I'm okay with that) but I can still appreciate works of pure artistry and genius, unsettling as they are.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Crunchy Bars, or, The Expats

Next week my cousin, who lives near Dublin, is coming to visit the States. I know what this means - he'll be bringing me a supply of Crunchie bars from Ireland. For those of you who have never tasted a Crunchie, find a way to get your hands on one. They are a literary treat - Crunchies are described in National Velvet.

My cousin deserves to be showered with praise for bringing me my Crunchies, and so he shall be. I wish he could bring me some other stuff, though, that's impossible to put in a suitcase: a loaf of Brennan's bread, a barm brack, a cup of Bewley's coffee with foamed milk, but above all - a dish of Irish potatoes, served with Kerry Gold butter. 

Kerry Gold really is gold. The butter that I buy here is white in color, but Kerry Gold is a deep yellow with a unique flavor. When it's melting on top of boiled Irish potatoes, there's nothing better in the world. Heaven is going to plates of those spuds, and no calories to worry about. I have it all planned out.

Of course, there are things here that my cousin misses just as much in Dublin. When he comes to the US, we all have to go out for a root beer and potato skins (what is it about potatoes?) And I send him back with packs of Mint Milano cookies.

I just thought of something else I'd like him to bring me - the smell inside an Irish chemist's, or in the hallway of an Irish house. I don't know what it is - some combination of Fairy Liquid Soap and Kerry Gold, perhaps?

I don't suppose he can bring me those, either, nor the wind that blasts down the Dun Laoghoire pier, nor a Teddy's 99 ice cream at the end of the walk down that pier.  I will enjoy those Crunchies, though.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My First Century!

HEY YOU GUYS!  I  just noticed I have on hundred followers here on my blog!

I'm celebrating by:

1. Handing out virtual champagne - have a glass
2. Handing out virtual canapés and caviar - grab a plate
3. Giving away a free copy of my trilogy - THE NIGHT WATCHMAN EXPRESS

So, about that last one - here's the deal. I have the entire trilogy up in one Kindle  download at this point, but soon that's going to change. It's all  about word count, you  see: my trilogy approaches 150K words (for you non-writers, that means a Buttload) and it's too expensive to print as one book.

Therefore, I have to split it up into two parts to print, and so I'll be splitting it into two Kindle downloads.  The current trilogy is  a bit raw - it's gone through subsequent edits and  formats, but the story hasn't changed  a bit.

(Lesson learned - write  in printable chunks.)

In any case, leave a comment here, and I'll randomly select one person to  receive a copy of my trilogy. Hey, it's a good summer read, and a LONG one, as we now  know.

finally - I want to send out a heartfelt Thank You to  all my followers. You truly are the best.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Amazon SEO Part Two: Ranking, Tags and Lists, by Claire Chilton

(Claire is the author of Whatever Became of the Squishies.)

After some great feedback from David Powers King and Johanna Garth I decided it was time to finish off my Amazon research in terms of SEO. So here's a full  run down of my SEO discoveries inside the mighty Amazon machine:

Some of these methods are newly discovered and some of this is common knowledge. Amazon is a big animal with lots of hidden marketing possibilities.

So here's the rough guide to explain and manipulate the Amazon ranking results.

The first section I'll look at are tags. So what is a tag in Amazon? A tag is a keyword or phrase that is tagged to a book by visitors. You'll often see authors in tag parties, trying to improve their search results in Amazon ranking.


You can read the rest of this blog here

And you can find part one here

Monday, June 20, 2011

Am I Weird?


No surprise  there, but I really wonder about myself sometimes. Lately I've been seeing a lot of covers for romance novels, and they always feature a gorgeous, bosomy creature in the arms of a tall, muscular, virile male. Usually that male is bare chested.

I gotta tell you - this does nothing for me. I can appreciate the subjects as art objects, but I'm not very interested in their romance. I got far more interested in the results of the Harry Potter (thin, bespectacled, wears a sweater) and Ginny (thin, ginger hair, wears a sweater.) My heart positively pounded over the results of the  Hermione (out of  control hair, super intelligent, wears a sweater) and Ron romance (ginger hair, quite a dweeb, wears ugly Dress Robes.)

And there are others - the love story in The Accidental Tourist between Macon and Muriel (Muriel - Not Amber, not Bethenny) had me enthralled. Muriel is  described as having eyes the  size of sesame seeds and legs as skinny as matchsticks. Macon (not Rafe Savage, not Jude  Lawless) sunburns easily and gets lost in a city he's known all his life.

Those characters are real to me. And there have been successful romance books that have hooked my interest - where the hero has a drinking problem, or where the heroine wears glasses. They're out there, but they're hard to find.

So, I suppose  I'm looking for those characters with flaws, both physical and emotional.  I can relate to them. I can care about those guys.

Again, I'll admit that I'm weird. Maybe  most readers want those specimens of male and female perfection in their  stories. I just have to say that they leave me cold.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Fly on the Wall, by Elaine Gannon

 I'm lucky enough to have Elaine Gannon, author of Terps, here today. Her book is about an interpreter of sign language (shortened to "terp" - hence the title.) Elaine herself is a "Terp," and she has written  this essay about what it is like.

“How did you get into sign language?”

People ask me this all the time. Hearing people who know nothing about it. Deaf people who know plenty and who are curious about where their interpreters are coming from. They want to know if their interpreters are codas (children of Deaf adults) or if they picked the language up as adults. While I admit to not being a coda, I am always quick to add that my husband is Deaf. I don’t know what this makes me, but it does buy me a bit of credibility when I first meet a Deaf consumer.

It’s a weird career, being the ears and voice of other people. When I’m interpreting, I’m not there. Hearing people try to start up side conversations with me, but I just sign whatever they’re saying to the Deaf person and refrain from being the one to respond. It’s not my conversation. Sometimes I interpret interesting chatter and long to be a participant instead of a conduit of communication, but I can’t. I’m a tool being used by the Deaf person at that moment. Sometimes I know more about a subject than the person who is speaking, but I can’t interject a quick statement of my own to make everyone else’s conversation clearer. I’m not there.

Most people have no idea of how to use me. I’m often asked to relay messages when I’m only supposed to interpret a person’s exact words as they’re being spoken. Hearing clients speak of Deaf participants in the third person while watching me instead of watching the person with whom they are actually speaking. “Tell her…Could you ask her...? Does she know if…?” Even then, it’s not my job to say, “Tell her yourself. I’ll interpret.” It’s tempting, but that’s up to the Deaf consumer to handle.

One of the most interesting things about being absorbed into the culture that exists where hearing and Deaf overlap is just how normal it is to be Deaf and to be among the Deaf. It’s just another language—and a beautiful one. Whenever I include a hearing non-signer in a Deaf event, it’s the hearing person who has the disability in that instance. Deaf people have a rich culture and a fascinating history in this country and it continues to grow more complicated as more people attempt to “fix” them with technology. It’s been that way since Alexander Graham Bell tried to do away with Sign Language and that’s not likely to change any time soon.

It’s an honor to be a fly on the wall in so many people’s lives.

(If you are interested in reading Terps, you can find it here.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Anna MacLean: Louisa and the Missing Heiress

NOTE: One randomly drawn commenter will win a Victorian tea cup and saucer. You can follow Anna's blog tour and continue to leave comments - dates are at the bottom of the post.

For all you mystery lovers who enjoy a good, cozy read, Anna Maclean has written a fantastic novel about a new sleuth, who you will all recognize: Louisa May Alcott. I got to peek at her book, Louisa and the Missing Heiress. It is wonderfully written and a great book for the summer.

I was also lucky enough to be able to interview Ms MacLean:

I love the idea of having Louisa May Alcott act as a detective and solve mysteries. Can you tell us how you developed Miss Alcott as a character for your series?
Thanks! I loved working with Louisa.  To develop her I first chose the age I wanted her to be, and decided to begin well before she was successful and famous so that I could show her progress as a writer.  I also wanted her to be somewhat independent and moving about on her own, so she couldn’t be too young.  After her age and development stage as a writer I was most concerned with her family relationships, and their importance on her development. I think it is absolutely true that Louisa would not have become Louisa without that particular mother and father.

Louisa and the Missing Heiress is a cozy mystery. Is this your favorite genre, and why?
I love cozies.  Absolutely love them. I find them to be kind of soothing in the way that Mozart is soothing. The music (and the stories) have depth and emotion and great narrative, yet they don’t go anywhere too dark.  I have enough of my own moments of darkness. When I read for pleasure I like the work to stay closer to the light and even have moments of humor.

You have a very nice review from John Pratt, Louisa’s great-great-nephew! How did you get in touch with the descendant of the author of Little Women?
My agent also represents the Louisa May Alcott estate and we connected through him.

What is your favorite part of being a writer and of the writing process?
You know, there are those moments of writing when something appears on the page that you didn’t see coming, didn’t plan it, work for it, yet there it is, a moment of grace and surprise that just makes the whole day worthwhile.  I love stories, love telling them, love seeing what happens when they start showing up on the page.

This looks like a fantastic book for summer reading on the beach. Could you describe the other books you have published?
Before the Louisa mysteries I mostly wrote historical fiction.  My first novel, The Frenchwomen, is set during the French Revolution and quite a bit of it takes part in Pennsylvania, where there was once a very mysterious colony of French émigrés.  French Azilum, the colony, at one point had the largest log cabin ever built in this country, and Marie Antoinette was supposed to live there.  But of course, her rescue didn’t work. I was completely taken, though, with that true story about French émigrés dancing minuets in a Pennsylvania meadow, and built a novel around it.  My second novel, The Queen’s War, is about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the year she declared war on her own husband, Henry.  I really like strong woman!  My third historical novel, Dreams of Empire, is set in Egypt, when Napoleon was there, trying to conquer his way across the east, to India.  His plans fell far short, but the story of his expedition of scientists and artists made a great setting to work with.  My fourth historical, The Sweet By and By, tells the story of Maggie Fox, a strange farm girl who began American spiritualism, that whole ‘knock-knock, spirits are there’ thing.  She was truly fascinating, and her setting, mid-nineteenth century America was rich with contradiction and eccentricity. What more could a novelist ask for? 

What is your work in progress?
Ah.  I’m a little superstitious about talking about unfinished work.  I’ll just say it is historical and an era I’ve never before visited – Elizabethan England.

Thanks so much for appearing on Fresh Pot of Tea!
Thank you!  By the way, I also edited an anthology, The Book of Love, published by W.W. Norton, and in my introduction I quote a bit from Kakuzo’s The Book of Tea: “The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle.  Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”  Happy tea time!

Here is an excerpt from the novel:

From Louisa and The Missing Heiress by Anna Maclean

The clock chimed four-thirty. I sighed and stirred, tapping my foot more quickly under the concealing hem of my brown linsey-woolsey skirts. Where was our hostess? Surely she could have tried on every hat in Boston by now.  Had she forgotten? Dot had never been the quickest mind – she had wept over fractions and torn her hair over South American rivers – but to completely forget her own welcome-home tea party!
            I looked outside the room into the hall.  The huge, ornate coat tree was close enough to the parlor that every time I looked in that direction and saw Mr. Wortham’s velvet coat hanging there on its hook, I had the eerie sense that someone else was standing there, watching.  Something strange, hostile, dangerous, floated through that house where newlyweds should have been so happy.

The Blog  Tour:

6/13/2011 Fresh Pot of Tea
6/14/2011 Dasef's Book Central
6/15/2011 Ryshia Kennie's - Once Upon A Time...
6/16/2011 A Novel Source
6/17/2011 Me, My Muse and I
6/20/2011 Theresa Stillwagon
6/21/2011 Nancy's Notes from Florida
6/22/2011 Grace Elliot- gripping historical romance

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dear Hart

I'm nothing if not a bit slow on the uptake. I noticed lately that I have more readers than usual (and thanks so much if you are new to the blog.) When I checked the stats, because I'm a complete stats geek, I found that quite a few readers were coming from Hart Johnson's gorgeous, fun, chatty blog, Confessions of a Watery Tart.

When I first created Fresh Pot of Tea, a few months ago, I got a lot of great blogging advice from Hart. She was generous and supportive from the start, in the manner of a cool new girlfriend who helps you with shopping (and we all know I need a lot of help with that.)

And now I see that she has added Fresh Pot of Tea to her blog list on Watery Tart. I've been buried under print editions and editing my sequel and editing other writers' books, so it wasn't until yesterday that I saw my little teapot on Hart's list.

For a blogger, making that list is like getting a star on Hollywood Boulevard. I'm thrilled! I'm excited! I'm using too many exclamation points again!!!!!

Do go and stop by Hart's blog. You'll find out why she calls herself a watery tart in the first place, and who HWMNBMOTI is. Plus, every Thursday is Naked Thursday there. What's not to like?

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's Hot.

The pool is beckoning. The beach is too. I have a friend who's been bugging me to go to both. I have another friend who wants me to go shopping with her. For, like, clothes and stuff.

I seemed to have missed out on that fashion gene. Here's what is in my closet: old T shirts and yoga pants from Target. Those shirts and pants were great. I knew exactly where to find them in my local store. Didn't even have to try them on: I walked in, grabbed a shopping cart, wheeled back to the workout section and got my clothes. Blam.

Then  some  fool decided to change the material and sizing. Suddenly I was sporting the dreaded "camel toe" from the new Target pants, and the shirts weren't comfortable anymore. I realized that I was cut off from my clothing source.

Since then I haven't found a new place to shop. And my supply of clothes is dwindling. I'm really quite worried - those  shirts are developing holes, and the colors are getting a bit funky, and I know I have a reputation: Oh, look, here comes that woman in the old Target clothes.

That means that I really, really, really have to go and do clothes chopping. Which means: going out, and selecting clothes , and trying them on.  I have no idea what size I even wear anymore. I was an S in Target, but what does that mean? Does Macy's carry a Target S? No.

To the girlfriend who offered to  take  me shopping - thank you! You are the sweetest person ever! And I am so sorry that I cancelled the shopping date, for  this lame excuse: I have to set up for my daughter's birthdayy party.  Her reply was, "OK, I'll let you off the  hook this time, but - WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO WEAR TO THE PARTY?"

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Quintspinner: A Review

Pirates and 18th century medical practices and press gangs may not seem to have a lot to do with each other, but Dianne Greenlay combines them beautifully in her book, Quintspinner. The novel, for teens and also for adults, is centered around the Spinner Rings, magical objects that can control different elements or aspects of reality.

Magical rings may seem fantastic, but Greenlay grounds the book with her thorough research. It is that attention to detail that hooked me from the start. In the first chapter, William is introduced. Later, he is caught by a press gang. These groups had  the objective of catching men (and boys) and forcing them into service in the Navy.  William's kidnapping and "pressing" into the Navy is described with a sure touch, and Greenlay adds details to give the reader a complete picture of life on a Naval ship, even describing how the boys and men went to the bathroom onboard.

Meanwhile, we are also introduced to Tess, the other main character. She is the daughter of a doctor, who is marked from birth with the sign of an acorn and five tears. This birthmark makes her strange or  "unclean," according to her father, and he forces her to hide it.

When she first appears, she is at the bedside of Elizabeth, her mother, helping the woman give birth. Again, Greenlay displays a great deal of knowledge on the subject, naming the medicines and the procedures that would have been used by a doctor in that period (and they are not for the faint of heart!)

Tess then witnesses a murder, and by doing so inherits the first of the Spinner rings. Later, she meets the murderer, who becomes her fiancee and mentor, teaching her how to use the Spinner rings to manipulate events. It's a wonderful twist, and one that Greenlay handles superbly.

More than that, Tess and William appear to be real. I truly wanted to know what happened to them, as well as to Cassie, (Tess's best friend,) Smith, (William's mentor,)  and a host  of other colorful characters. The quick pace and constant action made Quintspinner a compelling read - I sucked it up in one day on the beach.

I did have a few very minor quibbles - the  chapters are extremely short, which made reading a bit choppy,  and Elizabeth, Tess's mother, was  never really developed as a character. I thought that what happened to her could have been more touching if we had gotten to know her a bit better first.

But those are such minor details, and they do not take away from what is a very fine story from a very talented author. I do hope that Greenlay is writing another episode - and soon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Top 10 Reasons NOT to Post My Junk on the Web

10. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit, and I am certain you did too.

9. I've got laundry to do.

8. When I go to a meeting of the PTO, I don't want the  first image in the minds of parents and principals and vice-principals to be THAT. Especially not the vice principal - she scares me.

7. I'm fifty. Get off my lawn.

6.  My camera started laughing hysterically and shut down by itself. Now it refuses to start up, even if I tempt it with cries of Pretty landscape! Squirrel! or - oh, lord, anything  I type here just suddenly sounds incredibly obscene.

5. Waxing? Hello??!! Let's just not even go there, okay?

4. I just decided to read all of War and Peace, in the  original Russian, instead.

3., I hear that  phone books can be folded into cool seasonal figurines, if  you go page by page. Should only take me twenty hours!

2. Did I mention that I'm fifty?

1. I have heard a rumor  that  if you  do that - you know - that thing, then OTHER PEOPLE MAY SEE IT.  I know, crazy, but there it is.

Monday, June 6, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different: Gym!

I love writing. I'm sort of sick about writing about writing, though. Today's blog is an escape of sorts, remembering that wonderful tradition of youth: Gym Class.

Gym didn't start for me until I was in third grade. I was born in Arizona, and at the time Tucson didn't have gym class in my elementary school. We moved to Pennsylvania, and I was faced with a completely unexpected requirement: I had to wear sneakers every Wednesday (actually, at the time they were called  "tennis shoes") and I had to play games. Games involving balls. With a teacher who really was called : Mr. Licer. LICER. With a crew cut.

So, here's the deal: I come from a family of academics. Mom grew up in Ireland, where she was classed as "Hopeless at Games." Dad grew up in England, where his most memorable contribution to sport was  blowing his nose really, really loud. (He did have one awe-inspiring trumpet.)

You can just imagine my performance, then, in gym class, especially after getting thrown into the mix all of a sudden. Last one picked? Moi. Shouts of, "Hey, Whassamarrer, y'afraid of  the ball?"

Well, yes, of course I'm afraid of the ball. That ball hurts, especially when it smacks into my face during the time honored torture device known as  Dodge Ball. You'd have to be an idiot not to be afraid of the  ball. In fact, I pity you for not skipping  out of the way should any ball approach, as I have since learned to do.

Pus, could you do something about the SMELL, for crying out loud? A little freshener, hello?!

I'd love to say that Mr. Miyagi came along and made me an athlete, but the opposite occurred. Things grew worse. In high school, I was introduced to the wonders of the machine know as The Gym Suit. We had the new, improved version: an all in one shirt and shorts combo done up in really attractive polyester.

Let's go back for a second as I repeat "all in one combo." That, of course, makes for loads of fun whilst visiting the powder room. There's a reason why catsuits have never become fashion de  rigeur, you know.

And then there were the gym tests, during which we all had to do complete sit ups and, according to most chiropractors, ruined our backs for all eternity.

My daughter now loves gym. They play Pirates and Sharks, and Squirrels'  Hospital, and all kinds of cool stuff. The kids run around and get exercise, which is fantastic. I'm all for that. Just not for that Dodge Ball business.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Diving In - the New Book

Soon it will be that time again. I've almost finished editing The Lamplighter's Special, and it will be going up on Kindle soon.

That means that in a few days I'll start a new book. That's a scary, frightening, magical thing. It's one thing to be in the middle of a project; it is another to face a blank page again.

Anything could happen there. Lately a few ideas have been nudging me, waiting to crystallize as written words. I've been thinking a lot about bathyspheres, about the history of medicine, and about some strange characters called Old Hundred Coats and Old Thousand Coats.

At the same time, I have to start from nothing. I will have to create a structure out of the aether, hoping that a few aeronauts will come and give me a little guidance. I will need a map, but no one is going to give me one - I'll have to draw that map myself before I can start that voyage.

I'll take that dive, along with a lot of other authors. They are out there now too, getting ready to listen to that singing voice, the muse, the constant urge to tell a story.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Quintspinner - The Tale of the Doctor's Daughter

CONTEST ALERT! Dianne Greenlay will be giving away a Quintspinner T shirt and a  $10 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter during the blog tour.
I spent Memorial Day on the beach in New Jersey, watching my daughter build sandcastles while I read Quintspinner. It was the perfect book for the beach, since it centered on a nautical theme and setting, and it was really well written and researched. (In fact, Quintspinner was just awarded Honorable Mention for Best Beach Read at the Beach Book Festival, so there you are.)
The main character in the book is a daughter of a doctor in the 18th century. Dianne Greenlay, the author, knows quite a bit about her subject, since she is a physiotherapist and an EMT. She lives on the Canadian prairies with her  husband and what she calls “a consortium of cats.”
I was lucky enough to be able to interview Dianne about her book and her writing in general. What she had to say about the book was just as interesting as the book itself. If you would like to learn more  about Ms Greenlay, you can check out her website and her blog. She is also on Facebook.

1. Quintspinner is about Tess, a 18th century doctor's daughter whose life changes suddenly. Did your background as an EMT help you write the book?
Having a medical background as an EMT and as a sole charge physiotherapist certainly was useful. Because of this occupational combination, I have a lot of knowledge and experience in both acute and rehab medicine and I have been an observer in the O.R. and have seen many procedures such as amputations and cardiac surgeries first hand. However, I had to research 18th century medicine to see what techniques they used, and to find out what level of knowledge they had with regards to disease and treatments. Some of their techniques were downright brutal.

2. There are many twists to the plot of Quintspinner, including the prophetic spinner ring. Can you explain the significance of this object to the novel?
Spinner rings are based on ancient Tibetan prayer wheels and rattles, whose spinning movements were thought to enhance a user's prayers or manifestation techniques, enabling healing and prophesy gifts to occur. Today, spinner rings are found throughout the tropical areas as tourist-y items, and they are also sold in North American stores. Sometimes they are called motion rings, and sometimes they are referred to as worry rings, meant to reduce the wearer's stress levels. As QUINTSPINNER is set in the age and world of pirates, which had an astounding amount of treasure - jewels, furs, precious metals, and spices - and since the sailors back then were a very superstitious bunch, I was inspired to include a spinner ring as a subtle reason for Tess to be endangered. The presence of a spinner ring and its supposed power is there, but in a way that neither the reader nor the characters are sure of whether to believe in it or not.
The number "five" was, and still is considered to be a powerful number by numerologists - There were five oceans, continents, senses, planets visible to the naked eye - so I chose it to be the number of spinner rings. "Quint" had a better ring to it than "five". (No pun intended!)

3. Which readers would love this book?
An editor that I worked with suggested that I drop Tess's age to 16 to capture both the YA and adult audiences. This seems to have worked very well as QUINTSPINNER has won awards in both historical and YA categories. Although I had assumed the readership would be female upper YA and adults, it is an adventure story, and quite descriptive in the lifestyle back then, and so it also appeals to male readers.

4. What was your favorite scene to write?
I had two favorite scenes. The first was the pirate attack on the ship. As I was writing, I was literally hearing the cannons roar, the men scream, the masts crashing down, and I swear I could smell the smoke in the air. (Turns out it was the neighbors' barbeque...)
The second scene was the one of the hurricane. Again I was totally immersed in the tons of cold sea water crashing down on the decks and the burn of its salt in my characters' eyes, the winds tearing at their hair and clothes, the ship tilting in a sickening slide. I think I was playing Dvorak's New World Symphony in the background as I wrote that scene.

5. This book is set in "The Gold Age of Piracy." Are most of the characters  pirates?
(Spoiler Alert!) Only one of the main characters is a pirate, and this is not revealed until the story is quite underway. The other, more obvious pirates are encountered when the ship is attacked and overtaken by the pirate ship, The Bloodhorn. At this point, the pirate captain takes a rather large role for a good portion of the book. Because pirates have a universal appeal to all ages, my book launch party was pirate themed. Many audience members came in costume, we served grog and hard tack goodies, and a scene from the book was acted out by a local theatre group. It really brought QUINTSPINNER to life!

You can watch the book trailer for Quintspinner here:

Dianne is available for interviews and guest blogs.