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Quick Five© Rachel Neumeier

     Courtesy of Rachel Neumeier
Courtesy of Rachel Neumeier

Name: Rachel Neumeier

Who is Rachel? Fantasy author that turned her hobby into her full time occupation.

Website: http://www.rachelneumeier.com/

Books: Black Dog, The City in the Lake, House of Shadows, The Floating Islands, Griffin Mage Books 1-3

Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Itunes

You have to respect the authors that write and write and then write some more and are able to deliver not just quantity but quality as well.

Meet author Rachel Neumeier, a woman whom started writing as hobby and decided to craft it into her life.

Enjoy her Quick Five©

Your style of writing focuses on YA and Fantasy . . . what drew you toward those genres?  Do you have a favorite author or book?  Or do you feel these genres are lacking something you feel you can add?

I’m sure I started writing fantasy simply because I’ve always read a lot of fantasy.  I was just playing when I started writing, and it was natural to play in the genre I like best.  My reading tastes have broadened in the past few years as I’ve followed the recommendations of bloggers I trust into genres that are outside my typical range, but I still can’t really imagine wanting to write, say, contemporary romance.  I expect I’ll always fall naturally into fantasy.

To me, YA isn’t a genre so much as a marketing device.  I don’t really distinguish between YA and adult fantasy when I’m reading – I mean, when I was a teenager, the YA category didn’t really exist, at least not as it does today.  So I just read everything. 

      Strange Chemistry      Published Feb. 4, 2014               130 Pages
Strange Chemistry
Published Feb. 4, 2014
130 Pages

Today, I still barely distinguish between YA and adult fantasy when I write, which sometimes creates a challenge when I actually need to slant a particular book one way or the other.  When I needed to write the second book of the Griffin Mage trilogy, for example, all that would occur to me were YA plots and protagonists.  Finally I just said, Fine, the protagonist is 42 years old.  You can bet that decision gave that novel a hard shove toward the adult end of the spectrum, which was very helpful. 

I’m sure I have too many favorite authors to even begin to list them.  I think Patricia McKillip writes the most beautiful, lyrical fantasy – I think she’s the single best writer in fantasy today.  I think Martha Wells does the most fantastic, visual, panoramic worldbuilding.  I just read The Bones of the Fair by Andrea Höst, an author who is one of my favorite discoveries from 2013.

I wouldn’t say that anything is lacking in today’s genre fiction; there’s so much out there, it’s hard to see how anything could be lacking, though of course it can be hard just to discover the titles that you would most love.  I’m not really trying to achieve something – I’m more just trying to tell the kind of stories I most love as a reader.

Your latest book, BLACK DOG, has just been released.  How were you inspired to write this book?

BLACK DOG is a departure for me, because it’s much more paranormal-ish than anything else I’ve written, and set in  world that looks almost like ours, at least to a first glance.  This is very different from my secondary world fantasy, and presented new challenges and pleasures.

I was drawn to write BLACK DOG because I fell in love with Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, and then with several other paranormal and urban fantasy series.   I really wanted to write something like those series, only of course not too similar.  BLACK DOG was the result.  I do think my black dogs present a somewhat different spin on the “werewolf” tropes, though.

Do you feel that diversity or lack thereof in YA Fantasy is a concern, or do you feel that it is already where it should be?

                  Orbit   Published July 10, 2012             352 pages Kindle
Published July 10, 2012
352 pages Kindle

My impression is that there are a lot of authors thinking about diversity issues right now, so I expect to see an increase in diversity of protagonists and important secondary characters in the next few years.  I think many white, straight authors are probably nervous about trying to write diverse protagonists in case they get it wrong, but I also think it’s important for authors to take that risk, and I think more are.

Something that annoys me more than a non-diverse cast of characters is “tokenism”, where an author sticks one or two diverse characters in a book in order to “make a statement.”  I think that it’s usually very obvious when an author does that; it comes across to the reader as manipulative and artificial.  I don’t think there’s any excuse for substituting A Statement for a real story.

I think it’s very important to have great characters who also happen to be diverse, not a token secondary character who is The Black Character or The Gay Character.  One great example – this is contemporary YA – is offered by FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB by Antony John, in which the protagonist is a beautifully-drawn, complex, realistic girl who also happens to be deaf.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer?

Finishing my first book.  Or maybe finishing my second book.  Or, at the moment, I would be pretty thrilled to finish my current work-in-progress.  Actually finishing a complete draft is always reason to celebrate. 

I will say, writing both the second and third Griffin Mage books in six months total was quite an accomplishment.  I would prefer not to have quite such a tight deadline again, though!

When someone reads your books, what feeling do you want them to be left with? 

     Knopf Books for Young Readers     Published July 8, 2008                304 Pages
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published July 8, 2008
304 Pages

What an interesting question.

I don’t write (or read) grimdark, which I think is unrealistically nihilistic and bleak.  That kind of

hopeless despair about the world and the people in it is the exact opposite of what I want to infuse into my stories.

Grim things can happen to good people in my stories.  Certainly that’s true of BLACK DOG.  But, not to provide a spoiler or anything, in my books, the good guys are going to triumph in the end.

I want to leave my readers with the feeling that in the end, good guys do win.  That in the end, striving to overcome evil and make the world a better place is worthwhile, both because of what the effort means to the world and what it means to you

Quick Five© with Luciana Cavallaro

   Courtesy of Luciana Cavallaro
Courtesy of Luciana Cavallaro

Name: Luciana Cavallaro

Who is Luciana? A former teacher with the understanding of mythology and the need to travel

Website: http://luccav.com/

Twitter: ClucianaLuciana

Books: The Curse of Troy: Helen’s Story, Accursed Women, A Goddess’ Curse, Boxed in a Curse, and Aphrodite’s Curse

Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Itunes

The retelling  of mythology is so popular that if you haven’t read any stories yet you really should start. Fairy Tales aren’t the only stories worth retelling and author Luciana Cavallaro reminds people of that with her books and short stories. In this interview, not only does she give advice fro those wanting to retell mythology but she explains how she is able to keep the myth pure in her stories.


On your website you state that your travels influenced you to write about historical fantasy/mythology. What exactly during those travels happened that caused you to write this genre? Was it the scenery? A class you took? Etc . . .

My sister and I went on a Contiki tour of Europe in 2000. It was an experience I’d never forgotten and vowed to return, which I did in 2004 and 2010. The pull to go back is growing stronger and I hope to visit again very soon. While on the flight to London, the movie Gladiator was on which I watched but the impact of the film hit home when we arrived in Rome and visited the Colosseum. I still get goosebumps. It is an extraordinary piece of architecture and the atmosphere was spellbinding. Strange, I know considering what happened there but you can’t ignore the magnificence of the structure. From there we had a guided tour of the Roman Forum and that was it. I always had an interest in ancient history and mythology but visiting the ancient sites in Rome brought it to life for me. I wanted to learn more and then came the passion to write about it.
    Mythos Publications  Published Nov. 30, 2013             217 Pages
Mythos Publications
Published Nov. 30, 2013
217 Pages

What is your favorite myth and why is that your favorite?

I had to think hard about this question, but the myth of Atlantis is my favorite plus it is featured in the trilogy I am writing. I first came across the myth when I was 15 after reading Charles Berlitz’s book on the Lost Continent. Later, I read Plato’s works Critias and Timaeas where the mythology of Atlantis was born. I wanted to know more about this amazing place where the people were unique, had built towns and palaces with sewage and hot and cold water and baths plus toilets long before the Greeks and Romans.

In your books how are you able to keep the integrity of the myth while also doing something creative and original?

Most people are familiar with Greek myths and even if they don’t know the entire story, they will know parts of it. I want readers to be familiar with the stories and so I didn’t want to change the myths, they are wonderful as they stand but thought what if I put a different spin on the stories? Change the perspective of the storyteller and provide a different point of view of the same myth.

Would you ever step out of this genre and write something else or is this where you will stay?

     Mythos Publications  Published Jan. 10, 2013                10 Pages
Mythos Publications
Published Jan. 10, 2013
10 Pages

One day perhaps I will try and write in a different genre but at the moment I’ve been guided to write Historical Fantasy/Fiction. Although having said that, a few of the stories do have contemporary settings.

Finally, what advise would you give someone who is trying to write stories based on myths? Read lots of myths and research! It will help write better stories and add fuel to one’s creativity. Passion is another element which I believe is very important. I love ancient history and mythology and I hope that comes through in my stories.

Quick Five© with Anya Allyn

Quick Five© with Anya Allyn

Name: Anya Allyn

Who is Anya? An adventurous mother of four that lives by the sea, walks in the forest and writes horror.

Books: Dollhouse Series 1-4

Where to Buy? Amazon, Itunes, Barnes & Nobles


Psychological thrillers get the blood pumping and no one knows that

Courtesty of Anya Allyn
Courtesty of Anya Allyn

more than author of the Dollhouse Series Anya Allyn.  Interviewed by Tania Lasenburg, Anya explains the importance of horror and what its like to self publish.

Enjoy the Quick Five© with Anya Allyn below:

What made you decide to be a writer? Was this your first choice in a career or did you happen to fall into it?

I worked for seven years as a Features’ Editor before starting to write fiction. I’ve been writing stories since I could hold a crayon though – in very detailed pictures before I learned to write :)

Why did you want to write Young Adult? Was it the appeal that YA is about inch different from Adult fiction?

 Young Adult fiction appeals because that period in your life is a time of so many possibilities and where so many things are new. It’s a time of excitement and change, of leaving childhood behind, and also of discovering who you are as a person. It can also be a time of difficult transitions. For an author, those things are great to write about, especially if your book is set over a length of time – because your character is growing and changing so rapidly.

         Self Published         Published 2012              373 Pages
Self Published
Published 2012
373 Pages

Your books the “Dollhouse series” is considered horror, was there anything that influenced you to make a horror book?

Dollhouse is a psychological or ‘quiet’ horror, as I’m not a fan of violent horror. I think horror is an important genre. It helps you to experience something very scary and know that you got through it – because life throws lots of scary things at you and it’s good to know that you can get through those things, too. It’s a very individual thing though – some people may be so frightened by a book or movie that it affects them adversely, and those people may be better off not watching or reading horror.

Describe your process of being a self published author. What are the pros and cons of being a self published author?

I wrote Dollhouse as a short story and thought I’d try putting it on Amazon. But the story grew so much that it became a book, and now four books – I loved the story and the characters and wanted to tell everything that was forming inside my head. People come to self-publishing in all different ways – some have been previously traditionally published, some come in with a business plan and others just want to write!

The pros of self-publishing are control over your work, control over the book covers, and for some self-publishers they’ve been able to create a viable income that has even enabled them to give up their day job. The cons are the upfront costs; having to do everything yourself and trying to discover the best information and people that you need to put your best work together. The people you need include editors, cover designers and formatters.

Finally, is there anything you would do differently regarding your writing?

I think I just want to try lots of different things, and to do all that I want to do, I need to increase my input. Writing is like a muscle that develops – you do get better and quicker as time goes on. I love learning about the craft of writing, and I can’t see that ever changing!


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If you are interested in having your book reviewed or having a Quick Five© with Tania, please email her at wordpress174@gmail.com


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Quick Five© with Nana Malone

Name: Nana Malone

Who is Nana?  A USA Today best selling author as well as iTunes Breakout author who wishes for a career as a ninja assassin.

Books: Game Set Match (Book 1 & 2), Reluctant Protector  (Book 1 & 2 + a prequel), and Sexy in Stilettos (Books 1-3)

Genre: Romance, humor, and science fiction


Ohhhhhh Readersssssss! In our latest Quick Five© session Tania Lasenburg had the pleasure of interviewing USA Today best selling author AND iTunes Breakout author Nana Malone.

In a wonderful and quick moment with Malone, Tania was able to find out what is true romance for Malone and discover a sexier side to the best selling author. So without further ado here is the Quick Five© with Nana Malone:

You are originally from Ghana are there any influences from your childhood home in your books? If yes, why do you feel it is necessary to make mention of Ghana culture? If no, why isn’t it necessary to write about it? 

Courtesy of Nana Malone
Courtesy of Nana Malone
Well, sometimes.  In my first book game Set Match, my heroine a photographer had done a photography book on Ghana. I’ll often make subtle references as to travel or food or friends of Ghanaian heritage.  My plan next year is to set a couple of books there. Wheat I strive to do with my writing is to reach the widest audience possible.  I wanted to write books that would appeal to as broad an audience as possible. So I write for a world audience.  I do think my heritage influences the kinds of heroines I write.  With their sassy strength, each of them reminds me of a friend or auntie, or cousin I have.
What makes romance romance? Is it the sweet nothings, the flowers and chocolates or is it the fight, devotion, drama and happy ending?
The journey of love regardless of sweet or combative defines romance for me just as long as there is a happy ending.  Sometimes there is a fight, but love doesn’t always have to be that way.  Sometimes it can be effortless.  I’ve written both kinds, though admittedly, I do love a good conflict.
You also write Erotic novels under the name Q Malone. What made you decide to write erotic novels and use a pseudonym?
I think I wanted a little more freedom to go on the edgier side.  Even though as Nana Malone, I run right up to that line between sensual and erotica, Q. Malone gives me a chance to go as far as I dare. My career really started to take off at the end of 2012 so with a new venture I didn’t want to dilute the brand.  I didn’t want readers who expected a funny romance to be put off by something a little sexier.
      Wild Rose Press  Published Sept 10, 2010            466 Pages
Wild Rose Press
Published Sept 10, 2010
466 Pages
In your career either further down the line or right now would you consider writing Young Adult books? If so how would you be able to lure your adult readers to your new genre?
I love young adult books.  I think that time in our lives is so fraught with tension and conflict and stories to tell.  When I first started writing, I originally wanted to aim for the college crowd but that didn’t really exist as a genre until now.  I think since I have the tendency to write them hot, the youngest I’ll go is New Adult.
What are you currently reading or doing that is influencing your writing today?
I’m reading a lot of new adult right now and loving it.  I’m also reading some RS, in particular Misty Evans.  I also love JR Ward.  So I’m a little all over the place.  But everything influences my writing.  Even watching a tense interaction between a teacher and a mom at my daughter’s preschool.  But New Adult is really the biggest influence at the moment.
All of Nana Malone’s books can be found on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Nobles, and  Audible.
To know more about Nana, her adventures at being a best selling author and a aspiring ninja assassin follow her on:
                                                     For your Quick Five© moment email Tania at wordpress174@gmail.com