Saturday, October 6, 2012

Spotlight Feature on Lisa Morgan and Her Novels Phoenix Rising and Phoenix Burning

I will say this to start: Phoenix Rising blew me away!  I know it sometimes sounds like we here at R&M are incapable of being anything but nice about our reviews, but hey, when we end up with a ton of stellar books what else can we do but sing their praises!  But this book by Lisa Morgan pushed my emotions from one high to another.  I laughed, I sighed, and heck, I even cried.

Lisa introduces us to the young teenager, Maggie Henning, who is just like every other teenager you know, or is she?  Maggie has no idea just how much her life is about to change.  The world that she knows is not the only world in which she belongs.  She is also part of the Realm, a place where creatures live that mere mortals believe to be the stuff of fairy tales.  Maggie, up until this point in her life, has been convinced that her father is a murderer and insane.  He is to be kept locked up in a psychiatric facility because of his crime.

What Maggie doesn’t realize is that her father is not the criminal they all make him out to be, and the woman that she has called Mom for the last ten years isn’t her mother, in fact “she” is not even human.  This creature is a Revenant, a horrible being more akin to a zombie than anything else.  Maggie soon discovers that she is a Phoenix, the last to be exact.  Through her experiences we meet a motley crew of characters, from Seatha, the fae, Autumn, the witch, Luc and Michel (sigh!), the vampire princes of The Realm, and last but definitely not least, Liam, Maggie’s grandfather.

There are so many aspects of Lisa’s novel that I enjoyed.  I was pulled into the story to the point that I was unaware at one point of my husband trying to tell me that it was time for dinner.  (I clued in on that one when I realized there was no one on the sofa with me, but it took a minute or two to register!)  Lisa nailed the rollercoaster ride of emotions that would plague a person if they were suddenly smacked in the head with the truth after a decade.  The only problem I had was that it ended way too soon, and the way that it ended, well dang, Lisa, you just had to leave it hanging like that?  AHHH!  But thankfully Phoenix Burning released on the 4th of October, so I was able to feed my Phoenix addiction.

Phoenix Burning, which like I said, was just released on the 4th, is a fantastic addition to the story of Maggie Henning.  Book two picks up right where book one left off.  Now, don’t look at me for a spoiler on how it ended, but let’s just say that things get really interesting!

In Phoenix Burning we are once again drawn into the tale of Maggie Henning!  She has suffered a great loss from book one, and nope, I’m not telling you what it is.  She sets out on an adventure that could eventually cost her everything, but she is determined.  Once again, her new friends rise to the occasion to help her, no matter the cost.  But what Maggie doesn’t realize is that things are going to take a turn she never expected.

Okay, I know that isn’t a whole lot of information about the book, but I would much rather you read it yourself.  Lisa’s books are wonderful and truly pull at your emotions.  There are times again that I laughed, there were times my heart raced, and times that I wanted to cry.  This series has touched me in a way I never expected.  At times I raced through the book, dying to know what would happen next, and at others I would linger, desperate to soak up each word, scared to find out what happened next.  But I would trudge on, and I am glad that I did.  This book is an excellent read, and though I wish I could tell you more, if I did it would deprive you of the wonderful experience of falling in love with the series.

So, check out both books, Phoenix Rising and Phoenix Burning!  Both novels are worth so much more than their list price, and will stay with you for a while.  Then you can join me as I await eagerly the next book in the series!
Our Interview with Author Lisa Morgan

R&M:  Can you tell us an interesting fact about you, your writing, or anything at all?  Or, is there anything in particular you want the readers to know about you?
Lisa:  An interesting fact about me? Hmmm… I have a rather odd addiction- tattoos! I have 9 at the moment and plans for many…MANY more! As far as something regarding my writing- I don’t write at all when my kids are home, and I only write with music on 
R&M:  When did you first know that writing was what you wanted to do as a career?
Lisa:  I always had various story ideas popping into my brain, sometimes at inopportune moments (like, my sister’s wedding). I didn’t so much want to be a writer… more a story teller. I know, you probably wonder what the difference is, right? Well, for me, a writer sits down with an idea and writes what they think is interesting. A storyteller sits down and writes what the characters or situation is telling them to. I often admit that I have little to no control over what I write, that it’s my characters telling me what’s happening, I’m merely the “record keeper.” For me- that’s the difference.
R&M:  When you are working on a book, do you plan ahead, or do you let the story flow as you write?
Lisa:  I usually begin with four or five things jotted down, where I’d like to see the story go or end up. Honestly though, I have yet to get more than one per book actually in the stories. I also do not write from the beginning of a story straight to the end. Rather, I write it in pieces. When an idea comes to mind or when a character tells me “ok…this is what’s up” I’ll write it. I end up with 20 plus documents for a story. I then put them together like a puzzle, not forcing them, but finding exactly where they need to be. So far, my characters haven’t let me down.
R&M:  Is there a special place in your home that you work at? 
Lisa:  Honestly, it used to be at my dining room table with either coffee of a soda close by. However, now I have a small writing desk placed in the corner of my living room where I can usually hide (behind a pile of to be folded laundry) when my characters call.
R&M:  Are any of your characters in your books based on people that you know in real life?
Lisa:  Not so much. I do see different glimmers of my kids, or of friends, in my stories. There are a few historical figures or situations in my stories that I take some liberties with.
R&M:  Do you have an interesting writing quirk? Maybe something that you have to do while writing or something that you have to do before you start writing?
Lisa:  I have to have music on. My iTunes library has 12.6 days worth of music (that’s without repeating a song) and I have more playlists than I can count. They have names like “fights’, “love”, “death”…all so the appropriate tone is set in the back of my mind.
R&M:  What is your opinion on Indie publishing versus mainstream publishing?

Lisa:  I like both and do not buy a book based on who published it. I think it’s a fantastic thing that there is a wealth of self published or small press published authors out there. To imagine that many of these fantastic books would never be read because a big publishing house rejected them? The HORROR!  I also think that mainstream publishing has it wrong. They put books out based on what is currently trending, or what they think will be trending soon. Reader preferences are as variable as the weather. If we had to wait for a mainstream publisher to put out something that interested us, we could be waiting a very long time. 

R&M:  Do you hear from your fans a lot? If so, what are some of the best & worst things that you have heard?

Lisa:  I have just started hearing from folks who have read my first book, and honestly, it’s been humbling. I never imagined that so many would not only read Phoenix Rising, but then actually love it! Wow…  I guess the best and worst thing I’ve had would be this comment, which I’ve seen several times in several variations:
“Thanks! I didn’t sleep at all last night because I was reading your book! You made me laugh and cry! When can I read the next one?” It’s a great feeling to read that other people, who you may not even know, have become as emotionally involved with your characters as you are. I think that’s what every author hopes for. Bad, of course, but I never meant to rob anyone from 8 hours of rest. I have kids… I know how precious those little visits from The Sandman are!

R&M:  What does your family think of your writing?
Lisa:  I am lucky to have the full support of my family. I think they sometimes get aggravated with me, because I’ll begin rambling on about a situation in the stories…I’ve had more than a few eye rolls from the teenagers about this!
I feel very blessed to have them supporting me.
R&M:  How has being published changed your life, if any way?
Lisa:  You know, I think the only real change it’s made is the fact that I’m way busier! Between all the stuff that needs to be done after you actually write the story (blogs, posts, marketing, annoying as many pages and Twitter followers as possible) and the “real life” of being a Mom and Wife, I find it hard to get a few spare minutes.
However, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Maybe one day I’ll slow down… nah… probably not! 
R&M:  What are you currently working on?  We would love to know what is coming next from you.
Lisa:  Hehehe… well, currently I’m getting ready for the release of the second book in my series- Phoenix Burning. Then, I will edit book three (yes…it is already finished) then work some more on #4 (that’s half done!) I have another YA series I’ve been writing in my spare time… I’m excited for this one, too.
R&M:  What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

Lisa:  No matter what life throws at you, keep writing. There will always be someone who says disparaging things’- “You can’t write.” “Why are you wasting your time?” “It will never happen.” These folks, for whatever reason, are the “realists. Life is too short to be real all the time. Write what you love, write what interests you. Write, write, write!  Try not to listen to doubters and haters…they are everywhere. Have faith and belief in what you write… if you can do that, others will see in when they read what you’ve written.

R&M:  What was the hardest part of writing your book? 
Lisa:  The hardest part of writing my book? Probably when a character would whisper in my ear, guiding me someplace that was NEVER to be included in my story when I planned it out. Having to trust that character, to be brave enough to follow them… funny, it actually seemed to work!
R&M:  What hardships have you encountered while writing your books?
Lisa:  The only hardships really is the amount of time it takes to get the word out, then nail biting while you wait to see if anyone read it or liked it. Writing, for me, was the easy part.
R&M:  What books (or authors) have influenced you the most during your career?

Lisa:  I guess I’ll start with Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind. Honestly, is there anything Gone with the Wind didn’t have? Romance, intrigue, war, death... in my opinion, the absolute perfect book.
My second would be JR Ward, author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, as well as the Fallen Angels series and several romance titles under the name Jessica Bird. Ward uses popular language, not necessarily sticking to proper grammar or spelling, while she keeps a reader on their toes. She has a mix of just enough real and just enough fiction to keep you engaged and turning pages. She isn’t afraid to have flawed characters that, even by the end of the story, are still flawed, because in truth, there is no such thing as perfection. 
Third, I would have to say Patricia Cornwell. I have been a fan of her Scarpetta series since book one. She is brilliant, literally and figuratively. Her Kay Scarpetta character is strong and intelligent, and what makes it better is the fact that unlike other books I’ve read, Scarpetta doesn’t try to dumb herself down. The medical and legal items inside the book series are explained in such a way that you feel as though it’s you doing the investigating. I can’t say enough great things about Cornwell. My absolute favorite author!

Fun Questions:
1. Favorite flavor of ice cream: Mint Chocolate Chip
2. Favorite color: Purple
3.Favorite animal: Dogs and Degus
4.Favorite season of the year: Autumn
5.Favorite Author: Patricia Cornwell
6. Favorite drink: Pumpkin Spice Coffee (or fuzzy navels)
7.Favorite food: Complete Thanksgiving dinners- roast turkey, buttery mashed potatoes… mmm…
8.            Favorite Halloween Candy: I’m not a big candy person. I guess it would be that Indian candy corn though.

Excerpt from Phoenix Rising!
“I could burn you all,” I threatened with a snarl.
“You could,” he teased, a pointy toothed smile crossing its skull. My eyes shifted to the revenant holding Seatha, seeing its grasp change subtly, moving the sickle into position. “But not before your fairy friend’s head joins the others; and, I do not believe you have enough control over your fire yet to destroy us all.”
He was calling my bluff. Worse yet, he was right.
“Maggie,” he offered, almost disappointed by his admission, “You will drop your sword.”
I looked to Seatha, who still shook her head. I raised my arms out to my sides like I’d done when I was a child, pretending to be an airplane, my sword gleaming in my right palm.
“No, Maggie,” she whimpered, her eyes shining.
“There’s always a choice,” I reminded her, remembering a conversation we’d had in her room when she was hurt delivering the message from the king. It seemed like years, not days ago, since that talk. “Always.”
My grip loosened, and the sword fell from my hand to the ground.
“Good, Maggie,” the revenant sneered, pleased by my action. “Now, you will walk to us.”
“My friends and the army?” I asked the monster.
“As I said, they may leave, but I fear we will only meet them again.”
“Maggie!” Michel’s yell called from the army at my back. Gathering more courage, I willed myself to turn and face him. He was being held at bay by Luc and trying desperately to break free.
Michel, I directed my thoughts to him, not caring if every other vampire could hear me. I can end this. That’s why I’m here. I can’t control the fire yet and they know it, but I can control this.
Excerpt from Phoenix Burning!
I struggled to whisper as Luc’s hand moved to stroke my cheek lightly, “This isn’t right.”
“No,” he whispered back, his speech as difficult as my own even as he drew me closer, “It’s not.”
“Luc…” I put my hand on his chest in a half hearted protest of his closeness. The cool, corded muscles tightened under my palm. “We shouldn’t do this.”
Luc’s hand ventured from my cheek to my neck, his thumb grazing my chin in lazy circles. His other hand traveled to my opposite arm, his eyes stayed fixed on me.
“No, we shouldn’t.”
On a steep inhale, I thoughtlessly let the hand that was on Luc’s chest stroke its way to his neck and drew the vampire closer to me. So close my eyes couldn’t focus on him anymore.
I asked him, my mind foggy and words just as breathless as his, “Is this some kind of vampire trick? Mind control or something?”
If Luc was hurt by my remark, he made no notice of it. He stuttered, but didn’t back away, “I don’t know what this is,” he admitted. “Maggie, I’ve never…felt…like this.”
I watched him as he ducked his head down, his black hair, scented with my soap, fell into his face and danced on my forehead. “All I know,” he went on, “Is that it feels…right.”
Lisa's Stalker Links: