Tag Archives: interviews

The First Day of the New Tomorrow

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This gal is becoming a regular around here, and that’s ok by me! I’m thrilled to welcome back author extraordinaire, Jennifer M. Eaton, yippee-dandy-do! (Hey, I just invented a new cheer!). You may remember Jennifer first stopped by for a chat last year when her story ‘Last Winter Red’ was published as part of the Make Believe anthology. I was then delighted to have her back last month to speak about her book ‘Paper Wishes’, and I’m now beside myself with excitement to see her back here with her new book, ‘The First Day of The New Tomorrow’, published by MuseItUp.

Let’s get the official bits done first, and then we’ll get down to the interview…

Jennifer, you’re up, give us your biography…

Jennifer M Eaton

Jennifer M. Eaton is a contemporary blender of Science Fiction, Dystopian, and Romance.  Her work ranges from the sweet contemporary romances of Paper Wishes, to the dystopian society of Last Winter Red and Optimal Red, with a dusting of young adult paranormal just for fun in The First Day of the New Tomorrow.

While not off visiting other worlds, Jennifer calls the East Coast of the USA home, where she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband, three energetic boys, and a pepped up poodle.

Full time team leader, full time mom, and full time novelist… what more can you ask for?  Writing help did you say?  Well, sure!  Jennifer hosts an informational blog aimed at helping all writers be the best they can be. Stop on by and chat. She loves to hear from fans! – http://www.jennifermeaton.com/

Excellent! And now the book blurb please…

the-first-day-of-the-new-tomorrow book cover

Maya dreams of perfect skin, beautiful hair, good grades, and Eric Brighton—the boy she’s been crushing on since elementary school. But no matter how hard she tries, these things elude her.

Until Now.

In the space of a day, her acne clears, her hair thickens, and Eric finally takes notice. As everything she wishes comes true, happiness is finally in reach—until a man posing as a college recruiter informs her that her newfound abilities come with a price. She will be expected to use them to stop a catastrophe.

Frightened of playing superhero, but thrilled that everything she desires becomes reality, Maya tests the limits of her power—until someone gets hurt.

Now terrified of her own thoughts, Maya will need to choose between having everything she wants, or returning to normalcy. With Eric’s heart and the fate of her town resting on her decision, Maya makes the hardest choice of her life.

That sounds awesome, so where can I buy the book Jennifer? Please tell me, I have to know NOW!

Don’t worry Vanessa, all the links are at the end.

Well ok then, I guess I can wait. Ready for the questions?

I sure am.

What do you hope that readers will think and feel when they read ‘The First Day of the New Tomorrow’?

The First Day of the New Tomorrow is all about living up to your potential, even if the thought of that is a little (or a lot) scary. Many of us not only have dreams, but real, concrete talents that go unused because of fear. It is also about opening up your eyes.  Sometimes when you think something is true, it really isn’t.

When you are reading a novel, what are the three most important elements that make it a winner for you?

Well, explosions are a given. (And yes, there is a BIG explosion in New Tomorrow) I love a good detonation (as long as there is not a body count involved.)  Action and adventure are a big hit with me, too.  And a happy, satisfying ending.  I don’t care if I KNOW it will be a happy ending. It is all about the fun of the journey to get there. 

Speaking of journeys, your blog is always full of lots of helpful tips and advice for writers to help them on their journeys, but what is the one tip that you wish had been given to you when you first started writing?

Show, don’t tell… and also a magic wand to make me understand what that means.  This was the hardest concept for me to grasp, and I still struggle with it at times.  I have a few older novels that I wrote just for fun that are great stories, but the show verses tell issues are rampant.  They’ll need TONS of editing if they are ever going to have a chance of publication.

I hear you there. Now then, imagine you’ve chosen a three month solo retreat to a deserted island (nicer if it’s by choice than being stranded right?), you can take – one book, one unlimited food item, one tool, and a solar powered portable DVD player with a box set of DVDs of every episode of a TV show of your choice. What would you pick?

Book: Hmm.  Maybe Robert Jordan’s “The Eye of the World.”  I’d like to take the time to read that again to see if I can dissect why it drew me in so much when I first read it.

Unlimited food item:  Dark Chocolate.  That’s getting all your required nutrition in every delectable bite.

One Tool: A solar powered laptop so I could still write.

 TV Show: That would be a tough one.  I don’t currently watch TV (no time) but I have been watching “Game of Thrones” on-demand when time permits.  That’s a great story.  I might consider “Lost” because I never finished the series.  I think I missed the last three seasons.  I used to like “Friends” too.  I didn’t see the last couple of seasons of that, either.  I’d probably put the three of them in a hat and pluck one out.

Good choices. I’d go for Friends myself, laughter is important if you’re alone on an island, remember that. Back to the book – if you could pick one author to read ‘The First Day of the New Tomorrow’ who would it be, and why?

Jocelyn Adams, the author of the Lila Gray series (starting with the novel “The Glass Man”)  Her writing is fluid and enjoyable.  Of the recently published novels I’ve read, she is the most talented. I aspire to be as good as she is.  I’d love some pointers of how to get there. 

I’ll put a word in for you with Joss (as I like to call her). You’re welcome.

Right. Er…thanks Vanessa.

Well it seems like this writing lark has been such a whirlwind for you over the last couple of years, but what’s next on the writing front?

I just finished the first draft of “Optimal Red”, the full-length prequel to “Last Winter Red” which was published last year in the “Make Believe” anthology. This is a New Adult Dystopian that really fleshes out the Post-Apocalyptic world I created in Last Winter Red.  It is an exciting romp through the city of Terra, which we didn’t get to see in Last Winter Red. I’m really happy with the story, and can’t wait to get it out to the world.  I’m in the editing phase now, and then I’ll be looking for a publisher.

I loved Last Winter Red, so I can’t wait for this one…hang on a minute, first draft you say? First draft! Well what are you doing hanging around here chatting like you’ve got all the time in the world huh?! Get on with writing the second draft, your public is waiting! And do come back here and talk about that one when it’s published, ok? Oh and thank you, now go!

Thank YOU.  It’s always a pleasure to come hang out!

Yeah yeah, now GO!

I’m going already! Can I just…

No!

Well folks, that was Jennifer M Eaton, it seems she had to leave in a bit of a rush, not sure why. If you want to catch up with her, or buy the book, here are all the linky links she promised:

Email | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook| Manic ReadersGoodreads | Amazon

Zoom to one of these links to buy First Day of the New Tomorrow, and other books by Jennifer M Eaton:

Zoom to Amazon.com to buy Jennifer M. Eaton’s books
Zoom to Barnes and Noble
Zoom to Muse It Up’s Website to buy “The First Day of the New Tomorrow”

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Vanessa Gets Geeky With Bulldog

Born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South African resident Rob, aka Bulldog, is best known in the blogging world for his wonderful photographs of South African wildlife. As a semi-retired golf green keeper, he has developed an analytical program to help golf course owners save money, and that’s really what he’s here to talk about today. But first, a bit about the man himself. Rob and I are going to play a round of golf while we chat…

Rob and Vanessa playing golf

Hi Rob, thanks for letting me caddy for you as well as play
No problem Vanessa, can you pass me a 3-wood please?

Er…sure, I know what that is…um…anyway, I understand you grew up in the bush (outback). What was your schooling like?
My schooling, of necessity, was at boarding schools. First Rhodes Estate Preparatory School, which was situated in the most beautiful Matopos hills, a National Parks area, where on weekends we were allowed to explore the surrounding hills, caves, dams and whatever the natural surrounds had to offer. Here is where my love of birds started. Then on to Plumtree School, on the border between Rhodesia and Botswana, miles from civilisation. Again, nature was the main entertainment one could enjoy. Both schools were boys only, I think Dad was keeping me as far away from girls as possible.

I’ll bet he was! How long did that last?
Well, at quite a young age I met a girl, fell in love, three weeks later got engaged and a further three weeks later married her. Forty years on she still puts up with my jaunts into the bush to photograph and enjoy the nature reserves of South Africa.

Rob and Linda

That’s lovely Rob. Now…oh, hang on a minute…”Fore!”…oops, oh well, anyway, tell me about your career
After school I went into Land Surveying. On one trip I spent six months in one of the least populated areas of the country, an unspoilt nature reserve. This area was crawling with all the wild animals I could have wished for. Elephants that joined our camp became almost friends, hippos used to mow our camp areas on the banks of the river like good gardeners, the antelope that would watch from the river bank while we took an early morning swim with the crocodiles. People today pay huge amounts of money to do what I was paid to do.

At the same time we were fighting a border war with infiltrators bent on taking the country. So stints on the border, as a soldier, became times of searching for terrorists and at the same time, enjoying the birds and wild animals encountered along the way.

Eventually, I purchased a farm, and then later moved on to opening new businesses that became successful enterprises. This took me into the grass and gardening game. One of my three businesses was contracted to look after the local town golf course. Being a golfer, this was a true pleasure and years with experienced Green Keepers taught me all that I know today. On nearing retirement, we sold up everything and I took up a post as a fulltime Golf Course Superintendent on the coast of South Africa. Bliss, golf and nature mixed together as a career.

Ooh, great shot there Rob! But we’d better move on to the program now. Tell me about it…
The program is an analytical tool for calculating the costs of maintaining a golf course. Managers, or shop owners, can tell you what their product costs and why they must sell it at a certain price. They use the purchase price, labour costs, shrinkage and length it stands, and from this they calculate a selling price that will generate a profit. On a golf course, huge amounts of money are budgeted to maintain and improve the course. In South Africa that can be anywhere between 2.5 million and 8 million for a middle range course. But very few managers can tell you what it costs to maintain a golf green or bunker. Or for that matter where exactly this money is going, except for the approx. 40% that goes on salaries.

When a manager is told by a committee to save costs, their first thought is to pay off staff as this is a tangible saving which they can see. But with the lower workforce, the good housekeeping and looks of a course suffer. This can cause less golfers to now play the course. Result? No change in the income expenditure ratio.

Our product helps to show where the money is being spent, or wasted, and where substantial savings can be made. Having used the product, I had a saving of 7% the first year I analysed and 9% the second. Substantial when dealing with a couple of million plus budget.

Well that sounds very useful indeed. While I try and get myself out of this bunker, tell us how you came up with the idea for the program?
When I went full time into the golf industry, I naturally took my business practices with me. At the first course I worked, I discovered they had no records of past practices, or expenditure, I began to record on spread sheets, what I was spending, and where.

When I moved on to the next course where I had a bigger budget and managed a bigger operation, I incorporated more factors, which meant more spread sheets. It became obvious that we were wasting money in certain areas. I changed a lot of the course’s operating systems or methods within my first year. The analysis of the first year allowed me to make even more changes and we saved money. In the third year I was told to pay off three labourers which I refused to do but promised the saving they required. A required 10% saving ended as 9% without a reduction in staff.

I approached my son-in-law, the owner of a computer software writing company, to help me make my system a little more user friendly. He saw a potential market if the program was written correctly and meetings turned into a business partnership, Bulldogs Turf Solutions Pty Ltd. While the software was being developed, I wrote a book for the industry, covering all the pertinent points for legal compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Environmental Act.

The software remained divorced from my son-in-law’s existing business and was written in the evenings and on weekends. As modules were completed, I sat testing for hour upon hour, discovering errors, logging them, suggesting changes. One of the main criteria was that it was easy and quick to use, no course superintendent wants to spend hours in the office.

As we neared completion we found more and more ways of analysing the data. Making it easier for Managers, Owners or Committees, to monitor expenditure, and see the saving opportunities. The software package grew, and further improved versions are in the pipeline…Vanessa…Vanessa? Where have you gone?

Here I am! I got roast beef and mustard on sourdough bread, is that ok?
What?! I said we needed a sand wedge to get you out of that bunker!

Oh, right..I knew that! I just thought you might be peckish. Anyway, we don’t have time to talk about food now Rob, what stage is your program at?
The software has been tested at various institutions and with the help files and instruction manuals almost completed, it is ready for the market. Named ‘Terratry’ using the word ‘terra’ for the soil and earth we work and walk on and ‘try’ the optimum word for the effort we all put in to improve the outcome. It is not software for outright purchase, but rather for hire on a cloud so that all improvements and newer versions become immediately available for use by all. Training, assisting with setting up the software and helplines all come with the package. We are so confident that the software will aid the courses, we allow them to withdraw at any time they wish.

What is your competition? And I’m not talking about on the golf course, because clearly that is me
Indeed. We appear to have a unique product for the market. ‘Terratry’, is not a maintenance program, of which there are many. It is not a replacement for an accounting package, nor a staff time recording system, it is purely for calculating a spend profile to enable saving opportunities.

And is it available Internationally?
At present we are targeting the local industry. Later we plan to engage a marketing company, to advise and aid in international marketing. Frightening as it is for a “bush boy” to understand the international market, the partners in Bulldogs Turf Solutions, young and world wise, will be relied upon to take us into the future. It will obviously need a few tweaks to suit the different monetary systems used everywhere as well as the imperial systems still used in some countries of the world.

Terratry ad

Well that’s enough geeky stuff. Back to food. When I come over and visit you and your wife, where will you take me for brunch?
Oh, it would be such a pleasure to entertain you in my country, where would we brunch? The “Karoo Cattle and Land” restaurant, specialists in preparing the best lamb in the world, the Karoo Lamb. The lamb comes from a part of our country where grass is almost non-existent and the sheep live on the short herbal bush of the semi-arid area of South Africa. This meat has a taste all of its own, ready spiced from the inside out by the sheep themselves. The “all you can eat” smorgasbord brunches are to die for, having nearly everything the heart desires. (Might not all be good for the heart, but then what is a little indulgence when entertaining a celebrity?). After the brunch, Linda and I would take you on a short safari, just to give you a small taste of our life with my camera.

That all sounds fabulous, and most suitable for me. And finally, what are your plans for the future?
We hope the software will generate enough sustainable income, for Linda and me to retire, buy a motorhome and travel this beautiful country of ours. Visit all the parks and places of interest, of which there are so many, and to write an autobiography of my experiences in the bush, with the birds and animals.

Thank you so much Rob, I wish you all the luck in the world with your program. Now, I’ve made a few notes about your game today, do you have a few min…Rob? Rob! Come back!
Sorry, I’ve just spotted a rare lesser crested tern! Must go photograph it…thanks for everything Vanessa, bye!

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Notes
1. The photographic journey of bulldog can be seen here.

2. Original golf photo credit: Wodgie via photopin cc (Faces added by Vanessa).

Author chat and a chance to win an Amazon gift card, oh yes!

Make Believe Blog Tour ButtonToday I’m joined on the couch by three wonderful authors; they’re here as part of their blog tour for ‘Make Believe’, an anthology published by J.Taylor Publishing. And as if that wasn’t exciting enough, I’m also giving away a £10 (approx. $16 US) Amazon gift card to one lucky person who comments on this post! *

The authors are J. A. Belfield, Jennifer M. Eaton, and J. Keller Ford. Welcome ladies. They are three of the six authors whose stories have been published in ‘Make Believe’. I read it, and I LOVED it. All six authors certainly know how to tell a story; adventures and fairytales for grown-ups, what a joy!

Make Believe book cover

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Here’s a bit of info on the three gals…

J. A. Belfield

J.A.Belfied author imageBest known for writing the Holloway Pack series, J. A. Belfield lives in Solihull, England, with her husband, two children, three cats, and a dog. She writes paranormal romance with a second love for urban fantasy.

Her story in Make Believe: ‘Escort to Insanity’. Booking a male escort was supposed to be a simple affair for Nicole Harrington but somehow leads to the craziest night of her life—and Benjamin Gold is wholly to blame.

Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Jennifer M. Eaton

Jennifer M EatonJennifer Eaton lives on the east coast of the USA… where she pulls new worlds out of the air while juggling her knight in shining armor, three young princes, and a conceited poodle.

Her story in Make Believe: ‘Last Winter Red’. Emily leaves the safety of Terra in search of a husband, but what she finds outside the city walls will question everything she believes in, and the basic fabric of life as she knows it.

Blog | Twitter | Facebook

J. Keller Ford

J Keller-FordJ. “Jenny” Keller Ford lives on the west coast of Florida with her husband, two sons, three spoiled pets, and an endless supply of fictional characters desperately trying to escape her head.

Her story in Make Believe: ‘The Amulet of Ormisez’. When Lord Elton Fletcher returns home from war to find his brother possessed by a magical stone, he finds himself in yet another battle where the price of failure could be his own life.

Blog | Twitter | Facebook

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I asked the same three questions to the three of them, so while me and the gals sit here on the couch eating virtual Christmas chocs and drinking virtual mulled wine, you can have a read through their answers…

1) The book is called ‘Make Believe’, but what did you make believe about when you were a child?

J. A. Belfield – Um … how many people are gonna read this before I answer? Okay, I’ll ‘fess up. When I was waaaaaaaay younger, I used to do a lot of putting myself in the spotlight imaginings. So when I played on my roller blades, I’d pretend I was in a competition and do spins and stuff and pretend the crowd was clapping whilst mumbling commentary under my breath. Also, in our kitchen, there was a big square window right in front of the main work surface, and whenever I baked (which I did quite a lot) I would talk to the window like it was a TV camera and I was on my own cooking show. But seriously, don’t tell anyone. I have my rep to think of, ya know?

Jennifer M. Eaton – Oh!  Tons of stuff.  I was always on one wild fantasy or another.  I think I saved the world three times, and the galaxy twice.  Yeah, I was a bit of an under-achiever.

J. Keller Ford – I loved playing dress up, even into my early tweens.  I loved gowns with elbow length gloves and would collect them from thrift shops like some people collect trinkets.  I was a bit of an actress even then, and would often write stories and act them out for family and friends.  Yes, I was a bit eccentric.  I still read my stories aloud as it helps me to find unnatural words and cadence.

2) If you had the opportunity to do one of these, which would you choose and why? a) Travel into space. b) Time travel into the past or future. c) Swap lives with somebody rich and famous for one week.

J. A. Belfield – Eeeek. Well, I definitely wouldn’t travel into space. The mere thought of it scares the bejeebus outta me. I have no desire to travel into the past because what’s happened already should never be tampered with and consequences are there for people to learn from. If we had the ability to go back and alter every crappy decision we ever made, we’d never treat our lives with the respect they deserve. And I think seeing what’s up and coming would be a seriously dangerous tool for anyone to have. So, I’d have to go with ‘c‘ – though who I’d swap lives with would take a whooole lotta consideration.

Jennifer M. Eaton – I think I would time-travel.  I’m really into history… especially ancient Egypt and Medieval times – you know – knights and castles and all that stuff.  I’m sure as fascinating as it would be though, I’d be glad to come home.  I like my modern conveniences… and writing a novel with a feather dipped in ink sounds painful.

J. Keller Ford – Hmm, time travel, definitely.  I would love to go back to June 13, 1886 to Berg Castle in Germany and find out how King Ludwig II actually died.  Was it suicide?  Murder?  If only Lake Starnberg could talk.

3) How would your closest friends describe you?

J. A. Belfield – Probably as slightly vacant and nuttier than the nuttiest fruit cake. Ha!

Jennifer M. Eaton – Ha!  Unpredictable. I’m one of those really quiet people who pops up and surprises you once in a while.  I have a very wild side, but I keep it under wraps with the hubby and kids… well, my oldest son is starting to see it.  Yeah, I am the mad woman who ran through a corn field with my kids a few weeks ago doing research for my novel.  My youngest was afraid we’d get arrested… okay… maybe I cut loose with my kids too.  Don’t tell my husband. 🙂

J. Keller Ford – Don’t know, so I asked.  From the mouth of one of my best friends: “Jenny is passionately stubborn, overly-trusting, loving, moody, impulsive, weird, imaginative and a free spirit who forgets on a daily basis how amazingly wonderful and beautiful she is, both inside and out.” Yeah, ok.  *blush*

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* Amazon gift card giveaway info/rules

1) Leave an interesting/funny/sparkling comment on this post by 11pm (GMT) on Friday 28 December (actually, dull and uninteresting comments have just as much chance of winning – it’s random!).

2) After the closing date, I will put all the names in a hat and ask one of Santa’s elves to randomly pick one out. In the unlikely event of my not being able to find an elf, I will ask one of my children to randomly pick a winner out of the hat. I will select which of my children will do this by asking one of Santa’s elves to randomly pick one of them. Oh no…wait. Well it’ll be random anyway.

3) The lucky winner will be notified and will receive a £10 Amazon gift card. If the winner is outside of the UK, I will check the currency exchange rate applicable on 28 December and will get an Amazon gift card closest to that amount from the relevant country’s Amazon website.

4) The lucky recipient will spend the gift card at Amazon on whatever they like. As a completely random suggestion, plucked out of nowhere, they could buy an anthology, such as ‘Make Believe‘.

You’ve got one week people, so get commenting! Additionally, I am informed that random commenters throughout the blog tour will receive ebook copies of either ‘For the Love of Christmas’ (another anthology which includes a story by Jennifer M. Eaton) or ‘Make Believe’, so even more reason to comment.

And follow this Rafflecopter link for even MORE chances to win – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for your time ladies. I wish you, and all my readers, a very Merry Christmas!

Candy cane with holly

Interview with a Vanessa

Pretty Leaves

Like a lot of bloggers, I have a little notebook where I jot down any ideas that come to me for blog posts. Looking through my notebook today I found that I have several little snippets of ideas that aren’t enough for a whole post in themselves. What to do with them? I thought. After much pondering, I decided I could interview myself, and thus mop up some of these random ideas into a cunning and self-indulgent post. Here goes…

Hello Vanessa, would you mind if I ask you a few questions?

Not at all Vanessa, fire away.

Ok, first of all, I was just wondering whether you’ve seen any pretty leaves whilst out walking lately?

Yes I have! And by an amazing coincidence, I photographed those leaves and have already inserted the picture at the top of this post – what are the chances eh?

Wow, those sure are some pretty leaves. Now, can I ask whether you have done anything this year that you feel particularly pleased with yourself about?

Yes, I managed to get an advert removed from the radio by complaining about it to the Advertising Standards Authority. I don’t want to reveal the details, but basically the company blatantly lied about a point of law in order to try and sell something to a potentially vulnerable group of people. But they didn’t bank on me knowing the law in that area, no siree!

What’s your favourite joke?

Well it’s a bit of an oldie, and it’s more of a one-liner than a joke, but this one never fails to make me laugh every time I tell it to myself:

– I got myself a new dog, he used to belong to the blacksmith, as soon as I got him home he made a bolt for the door.

That is a good one, it’s one of my favourites too! What about T-Shirt slogans, any favourites there?

One that I saw being worn by an elderly lady gave me a good chuckle:

– At my age I’ve seen it all, done it all, and heard it all. I just can’t remember it all.

I’m wondering, does your 10 year old son understand the principles of bankruptcy?

He does now, yes. A few days ago he asked me what bankruptcy was. I explained it to him, and he said “Oh so it’s like a game of Monopoly – when you run out of money, you can’t play anymore?” Yep, that’s pretty much it!

You recently did a post about pranks you wish you were brave enough to do, but do your kids ever play pranks?

I assume you’re talking about my post entitled Five things I would like to do to a stranger. Yes they do, if we’re ever driving slowly in the car, my kids like to call out to people on the street “Excuse me, you’ve dropped something!” I know it’s a bit naughty, and I should probably stop them, but it’s actually hilarious looking in my rear view mirror at the people looking around at the ground. I do have one rule, that they’re not allowed to do it to elderly people.

And finally, have you ever watered a plastic plant?

You mean like when my Mum recently went away for a couple of months and asked me to water her plants for her, and I didn’t realise that one of the ones I was watering was a plastic one? You really think I would do something like that? What sort of idiot would do something like that huh?

Thank you very much Vanessa

You’re welcome Vanessa.