Sunday, 30 November 2014

Ashley Howland and the Super Puppy

Today we welcome author Ashley Howland to Promote-Me-Please to tell us about her book Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist.
As usual, I asked five inquisitive questions.

Q.1. Obi the Super Puppy is an intriguing title. Please tell us about Obi. What breed is he and how is he super?

A. Obi was a yellow Labrador and he was the most amazing dog. Obi just knew how to capture the hearts of everyone. His legacy lives on. Recently I returned to my old school where I used to teach and take Obi for visits. The kids there who would only have been 5 and 6 at the time all remembered Obi. He was just that kind of dog.

Obi the Super Puppy is a fiction novel, but it is based on truth. I was always amazed at the crazy things he did as a puppy, but he always appeared to have purpose in his actions. I came up with the idea of him being a super hero in training because I’m pretty sure he thought he was. This is the story of him telling my two girls about his first adventure. I wrote it this way because they spent many hours talking to their dog.  

Q.2. Can you tell us a bit about the sequel to Obi the Super Puppy?

A. The sequel to Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist is close to being published. Hopefully I will have it all ready for the new year. It is called Obi the Super Puppy and the Quest for the Last Laugh. This time Obi is telling my kids and their new puppy – Stitch (superhero in training) about Obi’s first sidekick, Rigger. They are still battling the red mist, only this time it is affecting children, making them ignore Labradors…. Obi has to use the crazy skills of Rigger to help solve this mystery.

Q.3. What are your aims in writing this story, beyond telling an entertaining tale?

A. I loved sharing Obi and my two current dogs (Stitch and Chewie) with children. They get so much from interacting with these trained Labradors, who have so much personality. I have begun to write all of their stories to share their love of life with more children. It also helps to keep the memories of Obi alive. I love that he can continue to put smiles of faces.

Q.4. How do you think reading stories about dogs affects children’s attitudes?

A. I think children can relate really well to dogs. This is because a dog never judges, they simply love everyone who will pay them attention. Being around dogs and reading about dogs can give children a great sense of happiness and enjoyment. Plus so many kids never get to own a dog, so reading about one can give them that experience to some extent.

Q.5. Is Obi based on a real dog?

A. Obi was my first yellow Labrador. He was so funny and beautiful, quite the character. When I started teaching I used to bring Obi in to school as a reward for the students trying really hard with their behaviour and learning. It was highly successful. Later he worked for me in a not for profit organisation, where I worked with at risk youth to train Labradors as companion dogs. Obi was a great part of this program's success. Now I have Stitch, who was lucky enough to learn from Obi and he is in turn training Chewie. I laugh at Chewie because he comes from the same lines as Obi and it is obvious. They would have been peas in a pod. 

Thanks so much for visiting the blog, Ashley. And everyone... if you want to know more, visit the links below!

Purchase Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist:

He is also on Facebook:

Satima Flavell presents - The Dagger of Dresnia

Satima Flavell is an author, editor and reviewer of high fantasy living in Perth, Western Australia. She can often be found on panels at SF conventions, and when she's not engaged in SF activities she's probably in a dance class somewhere, either as student or teacher. She also spends too much time on Facebook. Today she drops in at Promote-Me-Please to answer five curly questions about her new book, Dagger of Dresnia.

Q.1.  Your title, "Dagger of Dresnia", does a nice line in alliteration. Was that happy coincidence or was it intentional?

A. It was intentional, or at least semi-intentional. It just leapt to mind along with its sequel titles as soon as I realised I was writing about three talismans. The other books in the series will be similarly titled: 
The Cloak of Challiver is book 2 (due for release mid-next year) and 
The Seer of Syland is book three, which should be released in 2016.

Q.2. If you were recommending The Dagger of Dresnia to a reader who knew nothing about it, how would you explain it in one sentence?

A. It's about Queen Ellyria, elvish widow of a mortal king, who tries to 
ensure peace among her argumentative triplet sons by entering into a 
pact with a dark spirit - and of course all hell breaks loose!

Q.3. If you were recommending The Dagger of Dresnia to a reader who knew nothing about it, what other books would you suggest as comparisons in tone and style?

A. I was utterly chuffed when the reviewer for Scoop magazine compared The Dagger of Dresnia to the works of Guy Gavriel Kay and Marion Zimmer Bradley, and a kind reader mentioned it in the same breath as George RR Martin! Those are writers I admire and try to emulate, so perhaps in some small way my work might be a pale reflection of theirs.

Q.4. How much input (if any) did you have in the cover art?

A. The cover art was created by the very gifted Marieke Ormsby of Satalyte Publishing. She sent me her first draft of the pic and I was thrilled to see how well the mountains depicted the scenery of my imagined northern Dresnia, and how the poppy field served as a metaphor for battle. Marieke was going to put Beverak, one of the sons of my MC, Queen Ellyria, on the cover. She'd used her own son as a model, but I thought the boy (who is only 12) looked more like Ellyria herself, so I suggested she give him plaits, which she did. I hope he didn't mind! :-)

Q.5. Where to now? What is your next project?

A. Book two, The Cloak of Challiver, is well underway (just the dreaded 
battle scene left to write!) and I'm gradually piecing together ideas 
for book three, The Seer of Syland. I haven't got the main character's 
story down pat as yet, and I might just have to start writing to find 
out what happens!

Thanks, Satima for answering my peculiar questions. Be sure to check out for Dagger of Dresnia and for some more great books.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Meet Mary-Lou Stephens

Today we welcome Mary-Lou Stephens to the blog. Mary-Lou answered five inquisitive questions about her book How to Stay Married.

Q.1. How To Stay Married bears the same name as a Jilly Cooper book. Do you find the two titles get confused?

Ive noticed a lot of books, as well as songs and movies have the same title. The Beautiful Girls have a new song out called Dance Hall Days and whenever I go to play it on the radio (my day job) I think Im going to hear Wang Chung! Yes it can be a bit confusing sometimes but Jilly Coopers book came out in the 60s and is a very different book to mine. Shes been married for 50 years now so clearly writing a book called How To Stay Married helps you stay married :)

Q.2. How To Stay Married is a partner book to your first book. In what way is this a sequel? Do you suggest reading them in the correct order?

My first book, Sex, Drugs and Meditation tells the story of how meditation changed my life, saved my job and helped me find a husband. How To Stay Married is the truth about the happy ending.
The books dont need to be read in order. I tell the story of how I met my husband in How To stay Married so you get the complete picture. The books work well alone or together. I had many people whod read Sex, Drugs and Meditation asking for a sequel which was wonderful. Im happy to be able to provide it.

Q.3. Who is the ideal reader for your book?

How To Stay Married is a memoir, as well as being a travelogue and a guide to relationships. Theres something in it for everyone. Ive used a trip around the world with cabin luggage only as a metaphor for learning to travel light in relationships of any kind. So if you have friends, a lover, a partner, colleagues or anyone in your life you want to get on well with, this book is for you. If you just want or need a great read this book is also for you. First and foremost its a story, as was my first book. A tale well told. If some of the tips in the book are of use in your relationships then thats brilliant too.

Q.4. Whats next? Are you planning another book in the near future?

My next book will be a novel. Ive written two tell-all books and now its time to make something up. The novel is set predominately in Scotland. Its about what happens when three women, whove lost everything, meet in a place known for making miracles happen. I also have plans for another two novels, two fiction series and a non-fiction series. Plenty to keep me busy.

Q.5. Have you had much feedback from readers this book has helped?

I have had a lot of feedback from readers who really relate to How To Stay Married. They laugh and cry to find themselves and their thoughts and reactions reflected in this book. Theres one tip in particular that readers find very helpful. Its one of seven tips woven throughout the book as part of my own journey however I have written a chapter of tips right at the end called For Those Who Like Lists. If you would like my Seven Tips to a Happy Marriage (and one from my mum) youll receive it as a gift when you sign up for my newsletter

Thanks for visiting Promote Me Please, Mary-Lou. For anyone who wants to know more, check out the links below.

Amazon author page