An Interview with Keri Lake

I’m not sure when I first stumbled upon Keri Lake but her Halos world intrigued me. It is my great pleasure to have her here today!

Please help me in welcoming Keri Lake…

Welcome Keri.

Let’s start with something fun. If you could have a quiet dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would you choose?

I’d actually like to have dinner with JK Rowling. I don’t know why, but I am so intrigued by her personal story, that I think it would make for very interesting conversation.

Oh, good one. I agree, her personal journey is amazing. Like most writers, I started on this journey as an avid reader. What is your go-to genre to read?

My go-to genre is paranormal romance. Werewolves, shifters, fae, vampires and of course demons and fallen angels. I’m not picky!

With my Scots ancestry, I’m definitely partial to the fae :) So it was a short jump for you to write a paranormal romance. I’m curious about the rules you created for the Halos world. Was it more of a discovery process or did you work out the boundaries before ever writing a word?

Well, a little of both. I had to have some boundaries set for the storyline, to add some tension and contribute to the plot, but a lot of it evolved along with the story.

HALOS: Somnium your debut — What is your writing process? What elements do you tackle first and how long from inspiration to completed work?

Oh man, I wish I could tell you that I had a writing process because that would make me sound very organized. In truth, aside from a few note cards I use to jot some ideas, I pretty much just dive into writing. The moment I sit and outline, I end up spinning my wheels in mud. The story unfolds as soon as my fingers hit the keyboard. And oddly enough, I’ve never hit writer’s block. I have this unfailing faith that the story will just come to me.

What is your best or favorite setting for writing? Music on, yay or nay? Time?

My favorite setting for writing is probably not the best setting. I’d prefer to write on my laptop in bed. But often it’s way too tempting to fall asleep. Between the music, the cozy blankets, warm coffee and the peaceful surroundings, I’d be inclined to drift off. Definitely yay on music. I cannot write without my playlist. In fact, you’ll find some of my favorite songs that I use to write on my website. The best time for me to write is ungodly. I will wake up as early as three in the morning to plot away.

Yeah, I get up for Dark & Early writing too, otherwise the time gets lost in the daily grind. But three am, that is ungodly! Or dedication!

What is your favorite line or moment from Somnium?

Oooh!! Tough one. I love the scene with the motorcycle. But I think my all-time favorite would have to be when Allie wakes to Colton playing guitar. I imagine that to be one of the most serene (and inviting, *cough*) moments in the book.

Oh, yeah. Love that scene :D

How did you come up with the title and what exactly is somnium?

There are a few Latin themes throughout the story, including the script tattoo on the cover. The title of the book means ‘dream’ in Latin. And the MC, Allie, is plagued by dreams and nightmares that she doesn’t understand.

Yes, that cover is delicious. What went into the cover design?

My brother actually designed the cover for me. I wanted something dark that of course, gave some insight into the story. I was very pleased with the end result. The tattoo was designed by a tattoo artist and I sought out a Latin expert for the script, ‘In Morte Reconciliatio.’

Fans of Karen Maria Moning’s Fever series have gotten tattoos based ones mentioned in the books. It’ll be fun to see if the same happens with yours.

If your book were made into a movie, who do you picture playing each character? I’m especially curious about Colton ;)

Hmmmm. You know, it’s hard to say who would play the characters in my story! I’ve pretty much made them up in my head. I actually have some character pics on my website that have the look I was going for. But I’m not sure who they’d be as actors, quite honestly. I’d be more curious to know who my readers think would play these characters ;)

Good point, and it could open up an interesting debate. Have you read Somnium, dear blog visitors? If so, please share in the comments who YOU think should play each character.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

The most challenging aspect of writing the book was finding the time to write it. Working full-time and ‘being there’ for my family proved to be tricky at times. I became very efficient with the few minutes I could steal here and there. It’s amazing how focused you can become when you’re faced with limitations.

I can completely relate, LOL. For those who haven’t read this yet, your heroine, Allie, is an engineer. Why did you choose this profession and how did you prepare to write about it?

Allie is actually based on my sister, who is an engineer. So preparing to write her character was simply a matter of sitting down with my sister to discuss her job; easier said than done, considering she moved out of state. But I wrangled some of her time and Allie’s character came to life.

You’ve mentioned on your site that you’re at work on the next story in the HALOS world. Can you share a little of it with us?

Requiem will pick up where Somnium left off. Readers were faced with a number of mysteries yet unrevealed by the end of Somnium. Book two will begin to unravel some of those mysteries. It continues with Allie as the MC. But I’ll be introducing new characters into the mix.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during Somnium?

The most surprising thing I learned was that my pacing was really off. In fact, I had to rewrite the first chapter a couple of times to get it right. I’ve been told that I have a poetic style, very descriptive. This is nice in poetry, but in a full-length novel, it can affect the pace of the story and be a bit…boring. So to practice brevity, I took writing breaks and wrote some flash. This helped tremendously and when I returned to Chapter 1, I felt that the pace was greatly improved.

I’ve never been much of a flash fiction writer so it is interesting that it helped with pacing, I’ll file that away for future reference. What writing advice are you glad you followed or ignored?

The writing advice I’m glad that I followed is learning to take criticism for my work. Develop tough skin. Everything comes down to people’s preferences. What might not be interesting to one person could be intriguing to someone else. As writers, I think we become very attached to our work and often, defensive as if someone just called our child ugly. We have to be open to the idea that there are going to be many people in the world who just aren’t into our story, and some people who absolutely love it. The trick is to write for yourself and what you love.

Great advice!

Since we’re all readers at heart let’s wrap up with a couple more reading questions. What was your favorite childhood, I’m thinking middle school or younger, book?

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.

Love Silverstein. Still read his books to the wee beasties. Because my reading list isn’t long enough *snort* what are you currently reading?

I’m just finishing up Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione and have begun reading Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward.

Oh, Larissa Ione is one of my go-to authors! Haven’t started Ward’s series yet but it’s on the ol’ list, LOL. And for fun, what do you think readers would be shocked to discover about you?

I think readers would be shocked to know that I am obsessed with sharks. I’ve always loved them. Seriously, Shark Week is like a holiday for me – I look forward to it every year!

Wrap-Up Quickies:

Dog or cat lover? Dog lover
Tea or Coffee? Coffee, but I am addicted to Peppermint Mochas.
Quiet or music when you read? When I read, I definitely need quiet.
E-books or paper? Much as I love my Kindle, cracking a new spine is the best.
Where can readers find you?

Thanks again, Keri, for being here today!

~ * ~

Bio: Keri Lake is a married mother of two living in Michigan. She writes fiction in the genres of paranormal romance, urban fantasy and recently finished book 1 of a paranormal YA series. A graduate of Michigan State University (go green!), Keri holds 2 degrees in science but would gladly trade them both to pursue her true passion for writing. Though novels tend to be her focus, she has also written countless short stories and flash fiction whenever the distraction arises. She completed her very first novel in 2008 and has written two more since then with a few in the works.

When she isn’t toiling away on plots and protagonists, she enjoys reading, music and travel. If she could create mystical powers for herself, she’d have the ability to flash to anywhere in the world. And if she could flash to anywhere in the world at this very moment, she’d be staring at the ocean from her Adirondack chair on the shores of North Carolina.

A work assignment in Kittery, Maine should be routine for Allie Lynch; nothing more than to prove herself as a brilliant engineer. Instead she finds herself torn between two men: a gorgeous military guard, Colton Briggs, and her devilishly handsome colleague, Drew Costa. To resist temptation, Allie does the only thing she can: she throws herself into her work.

But fate has other plans for Allie. Women are going missing all around her, Allie is struck with a series of life-threatening mishaps, and she becomes the obsession of a local deranged psychopath.

Thrust into a dark world that she can hardly fathom, Allie must fight for her very survival, open her mind to new realities – and open her heart to the possibility of love. Because both of these men are trouble – but one is a greater danger than she could ever imagine…

Kindle

Nook

Smashwords

Sunday Summary & #ROW80

  1. My prediction that this week would be crazier than last…yep. Crazy busy. Exorcist head spinning, crazy.
  2. All of which means, this last week was an epic fail on all fronts for ROW80.
  3. The writing…nada.
  4. The blogging…only because most were done beforehand.
  5. The social media…zilch. And I profusely apologize to my fellow ROWers for not getting around to your blogs like I promised.
  6. The health…ROTFL. Take the dog for a walk. Ha! Drink water, well, okay, I didn’t do too bad here.
  7. I’m feeling completely out of the loop. Hope everyone is doing well. Seriously, I’m crossing fingers I’ll be able to catch up with everyone this coming week as we should return to some semblance of normal Tuesday.
  8. Speaking of Tuesday, I’ll be interviewing Keri Lake and to tantalize you, here is the trailer for her debut novel.

Meet the Cards: Justice

Justice, karmic balance, is number eleven of the Major Arcana. Some consider eleven a master number because it amplifies ‘one.’ Traditionally, Justice depicts the ‘scales of justice,’ much like the Libra sign.

What I See:

There is so much nature in this card! Endangered species. Destroyed habitat. But there’s balance too. The trees in the background. The river, irrigating the land, nourishing the spirit. And the man as the scales. Love that. Passion vs. Intellect. Karma. I definitely get a sense of weighing our actions against the consequences. I’m reminded of the Martin Luther King quote, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Light (upright) Reading:

It is time to face the consequences of past actions, positive or negative.

  • Keywords: Fairness, Clarity, Impartiality, and Law & Order.

Shadow (upside down or reverse) Reading:

Beware of reaping the outcome of unethical choices and/or bad habits.

  • Keywords: Fickle, Bias, Indecision, and Red Tape.

Plots:

With that flaming heart and feather, how about a retelling of Ma’at, Goddess of Truth? Or Themis, the Greek Goddess of Justice? Perhaps bring the god/dess into modern day. Certainly with the traditional Justice card, the legal system comes to mind.

Perhaps explore injustices against races and/or cultures? This card shows endangered animals and clear cutting, perhaps your story is about the consequences of taking too much.

  • Themes: Karma, Justice, Truth, Cause & Effect, Responsibility, Injustice, Legal Issues, and Actions & Consequences.

Characters:

Justice asks us to consider the consequences of our actions with each choice.

  • Archetype: Karma, Avenger, or Mediator.

Catalyst Heroes, central figures who act heroically, but do not change much themselves because their main function is to bring about transformation in others. Catalyst Heroes are especially useful in continuing stories [think Lone Ranger and Superman].
[AND]
Threshold Guardians challenge and test heroes on the path. ~The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler

  • Mythical Figures: Athena, Themis, Metis, Ma’at, Nemesis, and Dike.

The personality enneagram, a nine-pointed array of personality types, might also be a useful reference for character building.

Justice is E2: Helper and/or Giver

  • Self Image — I help
  • Passion — Pride
  • Virtue — Freedom
  • Narcissistic Trap — Service
  • Avoids — Needs
  • Speaking Style — Flattering or Advising

E2 people are relationship oriented. They are concerned with what others think of them, image and prestige. They see themselves as being for others and often believe they know what’s best. They dislike being alone and may feel sad or inadequate.

Additionally, look up one of the Air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) for personality traits.

…the Justice card might suggest that you need to use a double-edged sword to cut through confusion, eliminate excess verbiage, or get straight to the point. ~Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner

Image: Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert from Llewellyn Worldwide

Tea Time

Yesterday we talked pie. Today we’ll talk tea.

I come by my love of tea honestly, heck, it’s probably coded in my DNA. It is all that Scots and Welsh blood flowing through the veins. Even the wee beasties developed a love of tea at an early age. Nothing beats a cold morning like a warm cuppa.

Do you enjoy tea?

To brew that perfect pot of tea:

It’s easy. Even if you use :shudder: a tea bag. LOL, no I’m not that bad. Close ;)

  1. The kettle is what you boil the water in. The pot is what you steep the tea in, then pour from.
  2. To properly prepare the teapot, you want to fill it with hot (as hot as you can get from your tap) water, to warm the teapot, while you boil the water.
  3. Heat water to appropriate temperature in a tea kettle. Teas steep at slightly different temperatures. A White or Green tea at about 175 degrees; a Black or Oolong tea at 195 degrees; and an Herbal at around 200 degrees.
  4. If you aren’t using tea bags, you’ll want to have a steeping ball or strainer basket/infuser for your teapot. Don’t worry if you don’t have a strainer basket or steeping ball, you can use a hand-held strainer as you pour to remove the leaves (unless you plan to read the leaves but that’s a whole other post).
  5. Measure out your tea. On average, you need 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of loose tea per 8 oz of water. If you’re making an entire pot, don’t forget to add a teaspoon for the pot. (Remove the warming water before adding the tea.)
  6. Pour the hot water in your teapot and steep for the recommended steep time.
  7. Longer brewing does not equal stronger tea…just bitter tea. If you want a stronger tea add more tea. Teas steep for slightly different lengths of time to avoid bitterness. (Yes, I have the secret.) A Green or flavored White only needs about a minute. Black or Oolong need 2 to 3 minutes. A non-flavored white or herbal need 4 to 5 minutes.
  8. And if you want to get fancy you can cover your teapot in a tea cozy, or place on a teapot warmer, to help keep the tea warmer longer.

How you drink your tea is up to you. A little lemon. A little honey. A little milk or cream. A little sugar. Some combo?

Now, don’t you just want to curl up with a slice of yesterday’s Apple Pie and a cuppa tea?

Believe it or not, brewing a cuppa was not the original plan for this post. This Tea Towel was.

I grew up with a very English Nana, Grandpa’s second wife, and despite what I said at the beginning of this post I owe my love of tea to them. My parents are coffee drinkers through and through, only breaking out the teapot when Grandpa and Nana came to visit. Nana’s kitchen displayed a number of printed Tea Towels. Some she’d picked up before WWII. Decorated Tea Towels and England just go together in my mind. All because of Nana.

But I’d never owned one. Strange when I think about it. I was in London and surrounding areas, yet failed to pick up one as a souvenir.

Then my beautiful mother-in-law sent me this one! Aw, she knows me so well :)

It is now hanging above my desk. I look at it and smile. I smile for my Scottish ancestry. I smile for the memories a printed Tea Towel invokes.

Curling my fingers around a warm cup of tea and listening to stories from another generation’s childhood/young adulthood. Grandpa’s cherry tobacco as he puffs away on his pipe. Nana puttering around in the kitchen, canning the best Pickled Beets and Bread-n-Butter Pickles from the veggies Grandpa grew in the garden. Gathered around their kitchen table, staying up late, so they could teach me how to play Bridge, a skill sadly gone rusty since they passed. I owe my teapot collection to Nana too, but perhaps that is a post for another day :)

National Pie Day

According to the Pie Council, pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians. And apparently, the Romans spread the word.

The first pies were likely meat. That holiday favorite Mincemeat actually HAD meat once upon a time, though it is now mostly a mix of dried fruit and spices. The first fruit pies are credited to Queen Elizabeth I.

The first settlers would have brought pie to America. And, of course, the pie evolved into the dessert we love today. Pie is such a part of American culture we even have the phrase “as American as apple pie.”

National Pie Day is to be celebrated by baking, eating, and sharing pies. As pies are my favorite dessert to make, don’t y’all wish you were living next door right about now? LOL

Okay, the base of a great pie is a great pie crust. I admit to being a bit of a crust snob too. I’ve never used the pre-made stuff because Mum gave me her recipe (she encountered the recipe when she and Dad lived in Victoria BC back in the 60′s but doesn’t know the originator) and I’d rather bake from scratch than use the pre-made stuff — see? I’m a food snob.

Never Fail Pie Crust

1 pound lard ** (this can be a tough one to find — in some stores you’ll find it over by the bacon, etc.; some stores have it over next to the Crisco, etc.; sometimes you’ll find it packaged by the pound and others in big 5 pound cans)
5 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar (I prefer the cider)
2/3 cups water

Blend together lard, flour, and salt — coarse crumbs. Whip up egg, add sugar, vinegar, and water. Add egg mix to flour mix and blend into ball. You’ll want to put in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling.

Stores in fridge for about a month and makes approximately 5 single crust pies.

** Note about the lard: this is rendered pig fat and I know a lot of people have a problem with this. I’ve used butter — NOT margarine — before with okay results. I’m not a fan of products like Crisco so have never tried that but it might work. All I can say is with the lard the crust rolls beautifully, you can re-roll it two or three times if you need and it still comes out, and cooks up tender and flaky every single time! Hence the title :)

And here is my

All-American Apple Pie

6 tart apples
1/2 cup each granulated sugar and brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 cup raisins
3 tablespoons butter

Combine sugars, spices, and lemon rind. Roll out pie crust and fit into a 9 inch pie pan. Peel apples and slice. Place half the apples in the pan. Top with half the raisins. Repeat layers. Sprinkle sugar mixture over top. Dot with butter. Roll out more pie crust and cover pie. Trim and press rim with a fork. Cut slits in top for steam to escape. Bake at 375 for about 50 minutes or till apples are soft and crust golden.

Wee Beastie Rating:

:twisted:  :twisted:  :twisted:  :twisted:

Sunday Summary & #ROW80

  1. Ugh. It has been one of those weeks folks.
  2. The re-writing has gone okay. I’m behind where I’d hoped to be by the end of this week.
  3. The blogging, oy, still haven’t found time to replenish the ol’ scheduled queue which I really need to do cause this next week promises to be as crazy if not crazier than the one we just finished. And I’m even late today because sleep sounded SO much better last night, LOL
  4. The social media was an epic fail on all counts except strangely the 2 retweets per week. Go figure. I didn’t even get around to my minimum 3 blogs a day.
  5. The health, hmmm, water intake was still good with an average of 2 extra glasses a day. The dog walking was a miss though. We only got out once but we walked for 45 minutes, which is closer to the hour average we had been doing.
  6. I’m running around more like a chicken sans head today than coherent human so I promise I’ll get around to you Rowers tomorrow :)
  7. On the up side, I’ll be interviewing Keri Lake on January 31st. She released her debut novel, HALOS: Somnium, back in December.
  8. August McLaughlin bared her soul earlier this week with an awe inspiring, thought provoking, personal story that everyone should read: Does Dirt Have Calories? What an amazing journey, even days after reading, I don’t feel I can express all my thoughts and feelings.
  9. Thank you to Maria Zannini for sharing this…

    Welcome back my friend.

Meet the Cards: The Wheel of Fortune

Or just THE WHEEL in this case. Cycles and seasons. This card is the tenth in the Major Arcana and is the number of culmination, completion, and perfection.

  • Symbolism: Change, moving in circles.
  • Element: Fire (see Tarot Elements)

What I See:

I love this card. I see all the seasons in the tree. The intertwined roots reminds me we’re all connected. Of all the cards this one has the clearest “Tree of Life” look and feel to me. I see the moon cycle and think of the eight holy days of the solar year. I see the zodiac symbols. I see the butterfly representing the life cycle, to me at least. And then there are the beads, prayer beads according to the book, divided into six sets of nine (3 times 3 is magical). At the very center is what looks like a campfire, the fiery core of our being. I think of wedding rings and the promise of love. I think of counting a baby’s fingers and toes at birth. I think of generations and family.

Light (upright) Reading:

Change is imminent; something is passing away to make room for something new to come into being.

  • Keywords: Good Luck, Change for the Better, Opportunity, and Joy.

Shadow (upside down or reverse) Reading:

Beware of an unexpected turn of events.

  • Keywords: Disappointment, Vicious Cycle, Stagnation, and Cockiness.

Plots:

Perhaps a family epic? Or turn to myth and the fates who spun the wheel of life. A reversal of fortune, the winning lottery ticket or the loss at the track. What about a fortune teller or tarot reader?

How about exploring the Tree of Life? It can be a symbol of fertility and/or everlasting life. Scientifically you could look for the evolutionary interrelatedness. And there is the World Tree connecting heaven, earth, and the underground.

This is a card rich in numeric significance: the four seasons, the four stages of man (infancy, youth, adult, and old age), the four directions with the four midpoints, the eight holy days of the solar calendar, the eight phases of the moon, the ten spheres of the Kabbalah, the ten numbered cards of the Minor Arcana, the twelve signs of the zodiac.

  • Themes: Cycles, Orderly Change, Impermanence, Living in the Now, Turning Point, Seasons, Wheel of the Year, or Coming Full Circle.

Characters:

Wherever we stand on the wheel we are certain to continue to the next stage until we come full circle.

  • Archetype: Karma, Faith, Destiny, or Change.

Heralds provide motivation, offer the hero a challenge, and get the story rolling. They alert the hero that change and adventure are coming. ~The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler

  • Mythical Figures: Fortuna, Kismet, The Fates (Moirae), and The Sphinx.

The personality enneagram, a nine-pointed array of personality types, might also be a useful reference for character building.

The Wheel is E1: Perfectionist and/or Reformer

  • Self Image — I am right
  • Passion — Anger
  • Virtue — Serenity
  • Narcissistic Trap — Perfection
  • Avoids — Vexation
  • Speaking Style — Teaching or Moralizing

E1 people are instinctive, spontaneous, and intuitive. Their “gut” feeling is the center of their awareness. They are often direct or territorial. They are concerned with power, ruled by aggression, and may be troubled by self-doubt or self-blame.

Additionally, look up one of the Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) for personality traits.

When the Wheel of Fortune appears in the course of your writing practice, it can remind you of your unique position as a writer. ~Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner

Image: Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert from Llewellyn Worldwide

Video I Love: The Joy of Books

** Thank you Gina Carey for pointing this out.

Sunday Summary & #ROW80

  1. The Writing: Went real well this week and I’m ahead of where I hoped to be.
  2. The Blogging: Met my posting goal but need to spend some time restocking the scheduled queue :)
  3. The Social Media: My biggest challenge, sigh. The blog commenting went well and I think I met my goal of 3 a day plus at least 2 new for the week. I didn’t keep track of the Twitter or the Facebook stuff and know it was another retweet fail week. It’s only the second week, it can only get better, right?
  4. The Health: Doing well with the water, most days getting in an extra two glasses over my three glass baseline. The dog walking, yay, hit it this week though not up to our usual length. I had to cut them short because my toe still hurts when I wear closed toe shoes and it is too cold for flip-flops, LOL, but still got in a half hour each time.
  5. Have you ever reported a drunk driver? Were you afraid to get involved or just not sure you recognized the signs? Natalie Hartford has an excellent post on reporting drunk drivers.
  6. Need insight in to the opposite sex? Check out Jenny Hansen’s A Discussion of Man-Speak and its follow up Another Peek into Man-Speak. Oh, for the safety of your computer, put down your drink first.
  7. Still tweaking your goals? Check out Marcia Richards’ 5 S.M.A.R.T. tips.

Dog-Gone Fun

As anyone with a muscular dog knows you have to keep them well exercised to avoid destructive behavior. My walks with Roxy are not enough for her. At some point, I hope to be able to run her while bike riding. The boys playing fetch in the back yard is not enough. She isn’t destructive, thankfully, but we knew we needed something more.

Awhile ago we saw this woman playing fetch with her Doberman at the dog park. She had some contraption that allowed her to throw that ball amazing distances. The Doberman was exhausted after 15-20 minutes. We didn’t connect up with her to find out what the thing was but a search for it ensued. We learned what we were after was the Chuckit! Ball Launcher. But then had a time finding it in stock anywhere, LOL.

Santa Paws gave Beastie Girl one for Christmas. Because I haven’t gotten her to the point of being off lead trained we needed to test this miracle of dog fun in a controlled environment. Enter our neighborhood park. Not a huge area but mostly enclosed. I stationed two of the wee beasties at each entrance just in case Roxy decided to take off.

OMG SO MUCH FUN.

I wish I’d thought to take the camera. Watching her run flat out was awe inspiring. Exercising her to the point she wanted to quit the game before I did was a first.

And I’m on a mission to get her completely off lead trained so we can play like this more often. The only completely off lead trained dog I’ve had was a retired police dog trained long before he joined our family. So you dog owners out there, any tips or tricks?

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