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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Another View--or two--on Self-publishing.

Most of you know my take on self-publishing. I've posted about it HERE. You also probably know that I am a reviewer at Underground Book Reviews--a site dedicated to reviewing "Indy-published books." We take a fairly broad view of "Indy," including small publishers, vanity presses (as long as they aren't imprints of a major publishing house), and self-published. At UBR, we're all very committed to providing honest reviews and feedback to authors, even when it means exposing them to some harsh truths about what they've put out. You can read about my approach to reviewing in this blog post: So, You Want Me to Review Your Book, and also at UBR HERE.

I've also written about the long haul of the writing life...it's a marathon, not a sprint. You can read my thoughts about writing as an endurance sport on author KW McCabe's website (and updated HERE in 2014), and about the patience required during the writing, querying, and publishing process HERE and HERE .

Yes, I've taken a pretty harsh tone for someone who did self-publish the electronic versions of my books (the print versions are published by Casperian Books, a full-service, no cost, fees, or book purchase requirements to the author, or, as the publishing industry truism says, "money flows to the author"). But, if you read those posts, you'll see that I'm not opposed to self-publishing, but I am very much against rushing to publish without "paying one's dues" by putting in the time and effort needed to learn and hone the craft.

Yesterday, an opinion piece appeared on Huff Post: Self-publishing: An Insult to the Written Word.

An insult to the written word.

Wow.

That's harsh. Even by my standards. And as a read through the comments (time-worthy) shows, many of her points really do lack validity. But, many of them don't.

A better, more evenhanded and accurate take on the impact of self-publishing on the reading and writing world can be found in Kristin Lamb's Blog Generation Author Snowflake & the High Cost of Instant Gratification.

This.

This.

This!

All authors and aspiring authors, all those who "won" NaNoWriMo in November and rushed to Create Space or some other instant-gratification site to "publish,"--you need to read this. Take it to heart. And while the "participation award" mentality may be more pronounced in the millennial generation, don't think any of us are exempt from the excitement and ego-stroking of some instant gratification. That's pretty clear in all the self-published novels from the 40-, 50-, 60-, 70+ year-old authors. While many are well-written, with great story-telling, an equal (or greater) number are premature publications, put out by "good writers" who didn't take the time and make the effort to become better, to strive for "great."

As Lamb predicted, the slush pile has been dumped in the reader’s lap and it has devalue what it means to say, “I am a published author.” It's been overrun with rough drafts from those who have always been told they're "good" writers. Sure, they're good--more than good enough for the writing in their life--the annual Christmas letters, the college-essays, their personal blogs. But is it good enough to be a "professional"--a published novelist?

Probably not.

In academia, good enough is a C...it's average. A "good" athlete doesn't walk on to a pro team without putting in an awful lot of work first. Why assume it's different for writing?

What's the solution to the glut of not-ready-for-prime-time published books out there?

That's the big question for all of us--authors, agents, publishers--isn't it?

We're still in the midst of the mayhem. A new model for publishing is still thrashing around, trying to emerge. It hasn't fully formed and worked out what it is yet.

I do think it's going to become more imperative for reviewers to give honest reviews, not just 5-star hoping for the same in return. I also think it's a disservice if/when reviewers only post a review if they can give >3-stars. That's not really helping anyone, is it? If an author has asked for the review, give it to them--the one they earn. They have every opportunity before asking for a review to find critique partners, edit, revise, rewrite, go through beta readers, rewrite again. Their failure in due diligence shouldn't give them a pass to not receive a bad review when it's merited.  Too many of us are worried about "revenge reviews" coming back at our own work if we're that honest. I'd like to think any petty, revenge-reviews would be obvious, so wouldn't really cause any real damage. Maybe that's naive.

We do need more review sites like Underground Book Reviews, where the reviewers are held to a high standard for our reviews (higher, at least, then I've found at some review sites where it's clear they're just pumping out 5-star reviews based on the back cover blurb and maybe some info they found on the author's website.). We are required to read the book, and we post the review the book earns, not the one the author necessarily wants.

Whatever the new publishing landscape turns into, one thing is clear: Self-publishing is here to stay. How does it become something that lets saying "I am a published author" retain its value?

I wish I knew.





Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fathom the Depths of Imagination

A moving article by Jeffrey Davis, Fathoming Black Lives, is so worth spending a few minutes reading. And hours, days, years contemplating.  I think his idea of imagination--the ability to consider the plight, the feelings, emotions, history of "other"---or the inability, for many, is a dividing line that needs more exploring.

Imagination: the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

Empathy requires imagination. Reading, writing, and being pulled into fictional worlds requires imagination. A 2013 study by Castano and Kidd showed that reading literary fiction increases one's empathy. They conclude that, because literary fiction requires more mental processing than genre fiction or nonfiction, "readers of literary fiction are tasked with interpretation, or critical thinking. Literary fiction, they posit, has the power to “disrupt our stereotypes”; what’s more, it is full of “complicated individuals whose inner lives are rarely easily discerned but warrant exploration.”"

Another study conducted by Keith Oatley and Raymond Mar found that reading activates neural "that measurably help the reader better understand real human emotion — improving his or her overall social skillfulness."

In another study by the same researchers in 2006, 94 subjects were asked to guess the emotional state of a person from a photograph of their eyes. “The more fiction people [had] read, the better they were at perceiving emotion in the eyes, and…correctly interpreting social cues.”

In 2009, wondering if “devouring novels might be a result, not a cause, of having a strong theory of mind,” they expanded the scope of their research, testing 252 adults on the “Big Five ” personality traits — extraversion, emotional stability, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness — and correlated those results with how much time the subjects generally spent reading fiction. Once again, they discovered “a significant relation between the amount of fiction people read and their empathic and theory-of-mind abilities” allowing them to conclude that it was reading fiction that improved the subjects’ social skills, not that those with already high interpersonal skills tended to read more.

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, is critical to really comprehending the world around us. No, I can never be a black man. I can never fully know what it's like to be an undocumented immigrant, but I can imagine and feel the stress and the terror that is a part of their lives every day. I can also empathize with those who cause that stress and terror--not sympathize, but I can attempt to get into their head and imagine what they're feeling and why. And no. That doesn't make me sympathetic to them. It makes me angry.

It makes me wish they'd read more fiction as a child.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My Patronus is a Jellyfish... Weird Musings on My Peculiar Penchant for Cnidarians

To paraphrase Rubeus Hagrid, "Seriously misunderstood creatures jellyfish are." 

I've been quite partial to jellyfish ever since my first close encounter with Cassiopeia xamachana (I've blogged about them HERE on my now mostly defunct Waterblogged site). 

My infatuation with these graceful, mesmerizing invertebrates started when I saw what looked like a cross between a flower and an anemone on the sandy bottom of Brewer's Bay in St. Thomas. I'd recently transferred to the College of the Virgin Islands and was snorkeling around the school's dock. The flower was beautiful with its green-gold petals undulating with the slight surge. I had to get a closer look! (Casseopia photo courtesy of Shyzaboy's Flickr photostream.)

As I was about to touch a petal, a hand grabbed my wrist. My ecology professor was snorkeling nearby and saw what I was about to do. He pulled me to the surface and said, "That's not a plant, it's a jellyfish."

Now I was even more fascinated so found out everything I could about Cassiopea xamachana, the "upside-down jellyfish." Three years later, I did my senior research project and independent study on Cassiopea, and have never lost my fascination with jellies. 


In the 30 years since the onset of my love affair with jellies, I've only become more passionate about them. Could it be because I can so closely identify with so many of the their "seriously misunderstood" traits? I think that might have something to do with it.

So what are some of the misunderstood traits?

The first thing that comes to mind about jellies: prickly, ouchy, nasty stingers. But those stingers are there to make sure nothing gets close enough to hurt what lies beneath. Inside is just a lot of soft gooey-ness that gets hurt really, really easily. 

That defense mechanism is just that--defensive--to protect the far-too-soft parts. Jellyfish don't hunt, they don't go on the attack. The harpoon-like nematocysts--the stinging part--are released in response to stimulus, mechanical or chemical. The barb or needle at the end releases venom that causes the pain and then incapacitates any food that might have made the mistake of swimming too close. Again, they don't actively chase down prey to sting, it just happens when something bumps them...rubs them the wrong way. 



Jellyfish have a simple symmetrical nervous system. Stimulus to any point on the body, sends the nerve impulse out in a fast reaction, with no brain to intervene. They react to a perceived threat (even if not threatening, with all that vulnerability, anything too close could potentially harm the poor jelly). The reaction protects soft gooey parts without first passing through a brain, like a knee-jerk when the doctor "threatens" you with a hammer.

Please don't judge the jellies on that first reaction. Beneath that, the soft gooey parts are worth the effort to get to know. And the more you know about the jellyfish, the easier it is to safely handle them.

One of the great traits jellyfish have is how well they play with and protect their friends. Yes, despite that initial lashing out, jellyfish have managed to form a few very close symbiotic relationships. They keep those symbionts, their partners and friends, safe from attack, letting some live among their tentacles, where they share scraps from meals with them. Others live right inside the jellyfish's body. The jelly gives them a safe home, provides nutrients, and will even transport it's friends, moving toward sunlight so the zooxanthellae living in their tissue can photosynthesize. Jellyfish are true and loyal friends for the few organisms who get past the stinging barbs.

For those reasons and more, I am empathetic. I can so very closely relate to the jellyfish and feel for them, for the bad rap they get.

My jelly-fettish isn't a passing fancy. I figured if the obsession hasn't faded after 30-years, it's probably a firmly established part of me. As a matter of fact, I wanted to honor that part of me, so had a jellyfish tattooed on my arm in white three years ago.


My "stealth jelly" tattooed in white.


I liked it so much, I wanted to add just a hint of color, and a second, smaller jellyfish. Alas, I didn't go back to my trusted tattoo artist, Frankie, because I got lazy and didn't want to drive to Savannah. Big mistake. Hint: if you find a tattoo artist who you like and know does good work, it's worth the drive! My beautiful jellyfish ended up looking like a kid had drawn on my arm with a crayon. 

So, I went back to Savannah to have Frankie do as much of a touch up as he could to salvage his work. At the time, he urged me to think about adding more color so he could really fix the image and "make it pop." At the time, I still had a clear memory of the white jelly and loved that "stealth" look of my tattoo, so I said, "no, just make it look not so bad, but keeping it mostly white."


Frankie's fix after my bad ink experience at Iron Lotus Tattoo 

It took another 1 1/2 years for me to decide not only do I love my jellyfish, but I want to really fix them, and let them be seen. So, back to Savannah I went, and after exchanging pictures and ideas with Frankie, decided it was time to submerge my jellies in some water. That way I could have my white stealth jellies with just a hint of color, and make them visible. And here's what I now have. This is the freshly done ink, so brighter than it will be when it's healed. 

 
jelly tattoo
My stealth jellies have taken the plunge and are now
surrounded by turquoise blue tropical waters.


 As I said a the beginning, my Patronus is a jellyfish. Now, it's always with me so I'll always be protected and safe from the dementors. I feel better already. 


Up next: I'll take a look at my tattoos more closely: the timing and significance of each, and something of what I now think, in retrospect, the deeper significance of getting those I did when I did.


Friday, July 1, 2016

RELEASE DAY! The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods


It's here! It's here! The day has finally arrived! My third novel, the second book in the Chupacabra Trilogy, was officially released by Casperian Books today!

 The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods




To all of you who have followed along for the past 9 days leading up to this, reading the character interviews, and entering into the daily drawing to win a free book, THANK YOU! I sincerely appreciate your support and encouragement.

Congratulations to all the contest winners: Connie D, Bob S, Pat B, Jennifer K, Lori D, Phyllis G, Keith W, Julie N, and Henny H.  I hope you enjoy the story, whichever book you selected. And please consider writing an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other online bookseller websites, and recommending the book to your friends. Word of mouth from satisfied readers is a writer's most effective marketing tool! And please click on Bob's name to check out his blog post about The Un-Familiar---and then read on for more of Bob's great writing.

To wrap up this lead up to the books unveiling, I'll leave you with this: some of the lyrics, and a link to the video, of Demons by Imagine Dragons. I first heard this song while writing an early draft of The Un-Familiar and then, like now, it gave me chills. If ever a song completely captured the essence of a story, this one does for The Un-Familiar. I played it every morning to inspire and motivate me to write. If you've read the character interviews over the past 9 days and/or the first book in the trilogy, Ye Gods!, you'll have some idea of why the words are such a perfect fit. If not, have a listen, read the lyrics, and check back after you've read The Un-Familiar and let me know what you think--is this the perfect theme song for the story, or what?

Demons by Imagine Dragons
(lyrics from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/imaginedragons/demons.html)

When the days are cold
And the cards all fold
And the saints we see
Are all made of gold

...

I wanna hide the truth
I wanna shelter you
But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide


Take a look and listen on YouTube: DEMONS by Imagine Dragons and tell me what you think. Does it give you goosebumps too? If not, it just might after you read The Un-Familiar!
Thank you all again for stopping by to read, entering the contest, and being the supportive, wonderful readers and friends you are!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Interview with the Chupacabra!


Here we are, only ONE DAY TO GO until the release of The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods, and one chance left to win your FREE copy of the book (or of my other two titles, Marina Melee or Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons.)

Congratulations to Wednesday's drawing winner, Julie N!

If you haven't won yet, be sure to give it one more go--head over to the Contact page on my website and send me a message to get your name in the hat.

 
Introducing The Star of the Story, the one, the only--

The Chupacabra!

 
Here we are, the day before the release of The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods, with our ninth and final character interview. Today, I'm talking with the character this all revolves around, the chupacabra, aka Chewy, formerly known as Muggle, and before that, Paco, and before that, Toby.  Or, as he's known in some circles, the dog-god of Mercy.


LMH: Welcome, Chewy! OMG, you are sooooo adorable!
Chewy: Yip, yip, yip!


The Chupacabra, aka Chewy, aka Muggle,
aka Paco, aka Toby, aka
the dog-god of Mercy.
 
LMH: Oh, and canine, too. Chewy, sit. Thank you. OK, can I speak to the god?
Chewy (in a play bow, growling): Grrrrrrr.

 
LMH: Chewy? Come on. This is an interview. I need to talk with the god. Can you let him speak?
Chewy: Arf! Arf-arf!

 
LMH: No, I didn't mean "speak" like that, I mean, can Mercy talk with us?
Chewy (runs around the room and grabs a tug-toy.)

 
LMH: Ok, I'll tug for a minute if you promise to settle down afterwards so I can talk with Mercy. Excuse me a moment, folks.
  •  
  •  
LMH: There. No lay down. Down. Good girl. Mercy? Are you there?
Mercy (with a heavy sigh; his answer comes not in words, but in images and thoughts in my mind): I am here.

 
LMH: Welcome back. It must be rewarding to know so many animals believe in you.
Mercy: I am sad that so many still need to believe in me.

 
LMH: True. So, let's talk about some of the positive things in your life. How about Rafi?
Mercy: Unlike most of your species, Rafi is a good, good man. He deserves mercy and love more than most. He deserves the Captain.


LMH: How about the others: Kiki, Senora Milagros, Carmen?
Mercy: Ah, I love them all. They are remarkable and their life stories are meant to converge. I ensure that happens--with a bang. To find out how, read The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods. Now, I must rest. I will release Chewy. She is eager to play.

 
Confused? As the god said, read The Un-Familiar and you won't be! Available tomorrow, July 1, from Casperian Books, or pre-order now at Amazon.

Now go register HERE for your chance to win a copy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

An Interview with Reverend Aurelio Peña


The COUNTDOWN continues to Friday's release of my latest novel, The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods. Only 2 days--and 2 more character interviews--to go. That means 2 more chances to win a FREE BOOK, too! Don't forget: you have to enter the drawing every day. Names don't carry over from one day to the next, so head over to my website and send a message via the Contact page to be entered!



Congratulations to yesterday's winner, Keith W!

On to today's character interview.

 

Introducing Reverend Aurelio Peña

 

Our penultimate character interview is with the Reverend Aurelio Peña. Rev Peña, like Dr. Raines, is a newcomer to the cast. A celebrity televangelist, Peña preaches "prosperity gospel," the message that God wants us to be rich and selfish because He wants us to be happy and the way to happiness is to "get mine before someone else does." Given Peña's huge worldwide following, that message resonates with a lot of people. And, according to the corollary that those who are successful at amassing wealth must be pleasing to God because he's blessed them with riches, then Peña is certainly a favorite.

 

LMH: Welcome Reverend Peña. Oh, and I see you're not alone.

Peña: Vales la Peña (bows). You know my catch phrase, yes? It's a play on words. In Spanish, vale la pena means it's worthwhile. I switched that around, vales la Peña, you are worth the Peña...me (wink). Get it?

 

LMH: Yes, I completely get it. You're worth the pain. So, tell us...is there pain involved, following you?

(A petite serious looking woman in a dark business suit, her hair pulled back into a severe bun steps forward, one hand sliding under her blazer. Peña holds out a hand and stops her.)

Peña (to her): Esta bien, General. (Then to me): Tsk, tsk, tsk, such pessimism. An unattractive quality. Probably from low self-esteem. I can help. Follow me and you will learn the way to happiness. Trust me, vales la Peña.

 

LMH: That's nice. Can we get on with the interview? Oh, and can your staff wait outside?

Peña: Ah, my assistants. This is my head of security, who sitteth on my right-hand side, General Luisa Feliciano. (The woman nods). And these are the Women in White, as you said, my staff. (Pointing to each one in turn): My publicist, personal assistant, style consultant, hair stylist, personal physician, um, uh...(finger snapping)

Feliciano (whispering): Shoe shiner, sir.

Peña: Ah, right, my shoe shiner, and (waving absently) that one is in training. You may leave. Except the General. She stays with me at all times.

 

LMH: Fine. Now, tell us about how you came to be such a powerful preacher.

Peña: Ah, well, that is the god's will, isn't it?

 

LMH: Now, when you say gods, is that with a capital G, the God? And are you saying God's, singular, apostrophe s God's or plural, many gods? It's hard to tell just hearing it and I want to make sure I transcribe it correctly for the readers.

Peña: Shrewd. Most people don't catch that ambiguity when they hear the spoken word. That's why I prefer preaching orally to having things captured on paper. It leads to confusion. Questions. Verbally, my followers all hear what they want--need--to hear to believe.

 

LMH: Isn't that a bit...well, underhanded?

Peña: Underhanded? No, of course not. We do what we have to do to be successful. That's god's will.

 

LMH: Again, what god is that? God, capital G or are you referring to something--or someone--else?

Peña: Ah, very good. But, I can't tell you that. It would spoil the surprise. If your readers want to know, they'll have to get The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods to find out!

 
Thank you all for joining us. Now, either scroll down to read about the rest of the characters in The Un-Familiar, or head on over to www.lynnehinkey.com, look around, and send a message to enter for today's drawing for a free book. Or, better yet--do both!
 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Character Interview with Dr. Joe Raines

THE COUNTDOWN CONTINUES! Only 4 days until the release of The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods (Casperian Books) and that means we have another winner of a FREE BOOK today, and 3 more chances to win!

Congratulations to yesterday's winner, Phyllis G!

Welcome to today's interview with Dr. Joe Raines! Don't forget to send a message via my Contact page on my website if you haven't won a book yet. There are still 3 more chances to win, but you have to sign-in each day for your name to be entered into the hat!
 

Introducing Dr. Joe Raines


Dr. Joe Raines is another new and captivating character who joins the cast in The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Dogs and Demons. Joe is the new professor of oceanography at UPR and he specializes in climate science. He'll also be Kiki's boss as she starts her college work-study program. Joe has established quite the reputation for himself in his field: he has published prolifically, and his weather and climate models are the most accurate around. So, why isn't he at some big, prestigious university or research institute? Makes one wonder what he's up to in Puerto Rico, doesn't it? Here he comes now.

 
A Joe Raines Look-Alike, and my choice
for who will play him in the movie version of
The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods.
Mmmmm...

LMH: Welcome...mmmmmmm...
  •  
  •  
  •  
Joe (snapping his fingers): Hello? Did you have some questions?

 

LMH: Wow. Milagros was not kidding when she described those eyes: "dark gray, almost black, flecked with gold and green, like the Hubble telescope images of distant galaxies. Like she could fall into them for eternity." Mmmmm...dreamy.

Joe (clearing his throat): Thank you, I guess. You know, the University has a really good online training program on sexual harassment in the workplace. Maybe you should look it over?

 
LMH: Oh, sorry. Um, let's see. Where were we? Yes, The Un-Familiar. You're new to the cast. How was it working with this group, being the newcomer and all?

Joe: I enjoyed it. Jack and I got on great, and you know Kiki is always a pleasure. The girl is absolutely brilliant, if a little cocky. I suspect that's going to get her in trouble in the future. And don't let my scenes with Carmen fool you. I adore her. That's a good thing, too, isn't it? Since we spend a lot of time together. My favorite colleague of all, though, is Milagros--Señora Milagros. You know how touchy she gets if you leave off the title. My scenes with her? There was definite chemistry there.

 
LMH: Looking at your background, you seem to have an uncanny knack for being around right when the most extreme natural disasters strike: San Diego during the wildfires, Oklahoma for the tornadoes, and now, Puerto Rico when a series of hurricanes are lining up, ready to strike. Is there some reason for that, or mere coincidence?

Joe (grinning...and OMG is that a sexy smile...oh, excuse me. Sorry. He's not grinning anymore. Not that the scowl isn't sexy too, but...(sigh) back to the interview): Coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe more. Read The Un-Familiar, then you decide.


LMH: Wow. Just wow (sigh). And thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Raines.

Now head on over to the contact page on my website and send me a message to be entered for today's chance to win a free book or your choice! 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Character Interview with Jack Halliman

Welcome back. And CONGRATULATIONS to yesterday's drawing winner, Lori D! For all of you who haven't been drawn, not to worry. There are still 4 more opportunities to win. Don't forget, the contest starts anew each day, so head back to my website and send a message via the Contact page to enter every day.

The winner of Sunday's drawing is...
Lori!
Congratulations!

Now, on to today's interview,

Introducing Jack Halliman

Today we have the pleasure of chatting with the Jack Halliman, bestselling author of the Franz Henle mystery series. We first met Jack in Marina Melee because he lives on his boat-- the Holey Ship--at the marina of that story's title: Porto da Vida Marina, on the island of São Jorge. If you recall, in Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons, Jack sailed to Puerto Rico looking for a cure to his writer's block. Instead, he found a dead body and became one of two suspects in a murder mystery. The other was the chupacabra. Despite his efforts to focus on writing his next novel and not get caught up in the investigation, he still ended up in the middle of it all. But, with a little "inspiration" from Señora Milagros, he did manage to finish the manuscript for his next novel, too.

LMH: Welcome, Jack. Let me say, for anyone who has followed you from those early days when we first met you, you do seem to be mellowing with age. You were a real grouch back in Marina Melee.

Jack: Oh, come on. I wasn't that bad, was I? Maybe a little bit disillusioned. My marriage had fallen apart and the ex took more than her fair share of everything, including my daughter's affection. I'm over all that now. Janelle and I have reconciled. Me paying for her big fat wedding to that no-good Charlie helped, I can tell you that. But, yes, back in those days I was angry. But I wasn't a total ass. Don't forget, I took LaQuisha under my wing and tutored her and mentored her with her marina newsletter idea. Did you know, she's still at it? Some other marinas have even copied the idea. I keep telling her she should get out of that dead-end job, get her degree and go into journalism. I even offered to pay for it. But, she's devoted to George, and now that she and Albie are an item, I don't think she'll ever move. Anyway, I guess maybe I was a bit grumpy back then. But...(shrug).


LMH: OK, I guess it's understandable that you were in a bad place back then. How about now. Let's talk about that novel, Murder in Mayagüez. It was a bit of a departure from your usual Franz Henle story. What did the critics think?

Jack (groan): Do we have to talk about it? That could put me right back into a bad place. Let's just say I've learned my lesson. From now on, I'll stick with my tried-and-true formula for success: Franz sails off to some idyllic island for some R-and-R only to get caught up in a murder investigation---of the non-magical, non-supernatural sort. My fans were not pleased.


LMH: Wow. I'm surprised it wasn't a huge hit. I mean, with your fabulous writing, and Señora Milagros providing the...shall we say "some magical oomph" on top? It should have been great. And really, can we be honest here? The typical vampire/supernatural book reader isn't all that discerning about the quality of the writing, right?

Jack: I'll give you that. But, my readers are. To be fair, the writing is some of my best and I can't fault Milagros for the story. It's a terrific story, but just nothing my fans expect. I guess Kiki had a point when she said my fans--like her dad--like their books to be formulaic and predictable. Anyway, can we change the subject?


LMH: OK. You first met Eddie back in Ye Gods! and since then, you've become great pals. Tell us about that.

Jack: Ed's a great guy. We have a lot in common, with my background in law enforcement and all, and our love of Inspector Clouseau and the Pink Panther series. I mean, how often do you meet someone who can rattle off those Peter Sellers lines like that? I was used to people looking at me like I was nuts when I'd throw one of those classic on-liners out, but Ed just picked up on it. He's just an all-around good guy. Rafi, too. They've come over to São Jorge a few times, and I've visited them in Puerto Rico. We even took a sailing trip to the BVI together--the two of them, and me and my agent, Gail Murphy-Majors. You remember her from Ye Gods!, right? She's a pretty memorable character.


LMH: Oooh, you and Gail? Is there something going on there we should know about?

Jack: It's complicated. You know, she's married to her job and the agency, lives in New York. And I'm down here in the islands, living this laid back life. Well, at least it's laid back when I'm not being manipulated by Milagros and trying to round up Kiki, Carmen, and the god.  Anyway, Gail and I, we complement each other, but if we were always together, we'd drive each other nuts. So, we're taking things slow and casual for now. But who knows? By the time the final book in the trilogy, Ye Goddess! A Tale of Girls and Gods, comes out maybe we'll have progressed to something a bit more defined?


LMH: We're out of time, Jack. It's been a pleasure talking with you. We'll be looking forward to seeing how things develop between you and Gail!
Thank you all for joining us. Now head on over to my website and send me a message on the Contact page to enter into today's drawing for a FREE BOOK!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Character Interview with Rafael Bishop Soto


Welcome to DAY 5 of my 10-day Count Down to the Release of The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods.  On each day for days 1-9, I'm posting an interview with one of the characters. For the listing of when and who will be in each interview, check HERE.

I'm also giving away one FREE BOOK each day until the July 1 release. To win, you have to enter the drawing. To enter, you have to go to my website and send me a message via the CONTACT page.

REMEMBER: Each day is a new contest, so you have to stop by and enter for a chance to win every day.

Congratulations to the winners to date: Connie Denison, Bob Sanchez, Jennifer Killby, and Pat Burke.

The Hubby drawing the name of today's winner from the hat.
Congratulations, Pat!
 
Introducing Rafael Bishop Soto

Rafael Bishop Soto is a newcomer to the trilogy's cast. He was mentioned as Eddie's "other partner" (non-work) in Ye Gods!, but we never met him. Rafi is an incredibly talented artist whose work has been shown in all the best galleries in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, LA, and, of course, Puerto Rico. Rafi has emerged from a tragic and traumatic past, to become a compassionate and caring man. In Ye Gods!, Señora Milagros explained that the god of Mercy takes the form of  a dog "because dogs represent the best of what humans could be...[showing] loyalty, love, perfect forgiveness." Rafi comes the closest of anyone I know to embodying those divine dogly qualities. Here he comes now...

LMH: Welcome, Rafi, it's a pleasure to have you here. Readers following these interviews have already heard quite a bit about you from Kiki. She's smitten.

Rafi: I just adore Kiki. Isn't she a hoot? Some crazy mix of Albert Einstein meets Dora the Explorer meets Elle Woods.

 

LMH: Now that's funny. I'd never thought of her that way, but it fits. I love that you two become such good friends, but let's talk about you. Yesterday, when I spoke with Eddie, he was reluctant to talk about your relationship.

Rafi: Oh, that's Eddie playing macho-cop. He really does do that whole man's-man thing well, doesn't he? You can understand why he has to, right? I mean, a gay guy, and a cop? In Puerto Rico? To get any respect, just to survive, he's always had to prove that he's tough enough. As a kid, and even at the police academy, the other kids would try to beat up on him. But Eddie's a big fella. His father was intent on toughening him up, so Eddie became a great boxer. You should see him. Talk about float like a butterfly! But he doesn't so much sting like a bee, it's more like knock you over like a bulldozer. Anyway, now, as an adult, it's the media and the politicians like former-Mayor Reyes that pick on him. He's had to grow a thick skin and set some firm boundaries between his personal and professional life. Really, a lot of that machismo is to keep everyone from finding out he's a big old softie.

 

LMH: You had a hard time growing up, too. Care to tell us about it? About your parents?

Rafi (He holds turns his arms palms up in front of me. White welts rise up across the wrists): It was hard enough having to retell all that in the book, so I'd rather not go through it again. I can tell you a bit about my parents and that might help you to understand why they did what they did. My father was a good ole boy from Mississippi, stationed here at Ramey Air Force Base, that's where he met my mother. He was southern Baptist and she was, of course, Catholic. That led to a stormy enough marriage. Both families opposed it---his because he was marrying a "brown-skinned foreign heathen" and hers because she was marrying a non-Catholic gringo. When it became clear that, as my father put it, there was something "funny" about me, his parents--I've never met that set of grands. They refused to have anything to do with me or my mother--said that I was God's revenge for the marriage. I was their worst nightmare come true, a gay, raised-Catholic, Latino in the family. Now, my mother's mother, mi abuelita--I called her Yaya--she came around. She did her best to take care of me and protect me. She was as pious as they come, mind you. Going to church every day, twice on Sunday, but she believed whatever God made, however he made it, was perfect, including me, just the way I am.

 

LMH: Have you reconciled with your parents?

Rafi: Yes. Maybe. No, not really. I've seen them and spoken with them, but I won't reconcile with them. I'm still working on the forgiveness part. I have a hard time with that because I know forgiveness doesn't mean accepting or condoning, but sometimes it feels that way. But, that's my issue to deal with, not yours. Let's talk about something a bit more cheerful, shall we?

 

LMH: OK, how about animals? You have quite a way with them, don't you?

Rafi:  I do! No one was more surprised by that than me. The only pet I ever had growing up was a goldfish. They inspired me. I was never more prolific than when they were all in the house. I've got a show coming up soon with my post-hurricane paintings of all the animals. I call it, "They Came Two-by-Two." They didn't, really. They came in droves.

 

LMH: Congratulations! Our time is up now. I know everyone will love meeting you in The Un-Familiar, and look forward to seeing even more of you ahead.  

Rafi: I'm so excited to see what's in store for me in the final book of the trilogy: Ye Goddess: A Tale of Girls and Gods so you had better go get writing!


LMH: Thank you all for stopping by! Now head over to my website to enter for your chance to win a FREE BOOK! You have your choice of books (Marina Melee, Ye Gods! or The Un-Familiar) in print or electronic versions. But you have to register each day to be entered anew each day!

OK, folks! You know the drill: head on over to my website and send me a message via the Contacts page to be entered into today's drawing for a free book! Today's winner will be announced tomorrow morning.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Welcome back! Today, I continue with interview number 4 of our nine character interviews, one each day leading up to the day 10 (July 1) release of The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods. After you get to know a little bit about Captain Eddie Corredor (very little, actually!) be sure to head over to the contact page on my website. Send a message to enter for today's drawing for a free book. No worries about privacy: the message comes directly to me, so no one else sees your name or contact information, and I don't share the info with anyone. Do be sure to stop back every day since you have to register each day for that day's drawing.

The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods
Coming July 1
from Casperian Books



Introducing Captain Eddie Corredor


Eddie Corredor has been with the Puerto Rico Police Department for over twenty years. He'd just started on the force when the chupacabra appeared for the first time back in the mid-90s. Twenty years later, he and his (work) partner, Hector Ruiz, discovered the truth behind the reported chupacabra sightings and mayhem those caused: the mayor had been donning a costume to instill fear into his constituents as a means to drum up votes and customers for his business, Monster Safaris, Inc. Their work earned Eddie and Ruiz promotions, and a bit of notoriety.

LMH: Welcome, Captain Corredor and congratulations on the promotion. It must be very difficult being an openly gay police officer in Puerto Rico, so I'd imagine the recognition for your good work is appreciated.

Eddie: Why is that? Shouldn't good work be rewarded and the recognition appreciated, regardless of race, age, creed, or sexual orientation? Good work is good work.


LMH: I just meant, well, not to offend you, but given the reputation of the PRPD? Not known for their honesty and trustworthiness, you know. They have a pretty bad and well-earned reputation for corruption and abuse of authority. It seems such an odd fit--everything about you contradicts what the force has come to represent on the island.

Eddie (shaking his head): A few bad apples, and they're the ones who make the news. That makes it tough for the rest of us. There are so many good, hardworking, and honest cops on the force. Guys who are there to fight against that reputation and the tide of corruption. Don't let the bad press fool you. Most of us are caring, compassionate, and take the public's trust seriously.

LMH: Good to know. Now, about that job. Law enforcement is dangerous work. It has to be awfully stressful on your loved ones. How does Rafi deal with the constant worry?

Eddie: My personal life is off limits for interviews.


LMH: What? Why?

Eddie: I've been burned more than once before. Reporters like Miguel Graciento over at that gossip rag, En Otras Noticias, twist the truth and use innuendo and hearsay to sensationalize their stories--and that's all they are, stories. Make believe. Not information. People think the police are corrupt? Graciento was involved up to his eyeballs in that Monster Safaris business. It's unconscionable that he'd be back reporting the "news" and that they'd let him write another story about the chupacabra after that.


LMH: OK, I can understand your reluctance, but I'm not a reporter. I'm an author. You do know that people will read all about you and Rafi in The Un-Familiar, right?

Eddie: I know. Sorry. The media is just a touchy subject for me. The fourth estate. Ha! You know what Oscar Wilde wrote about the fourth estate, don't you? That it may have been the fourth estate when that term was coined, the other three being branches of government, but now it's the only one--it ate the other three.

LMH: Interesting. Can we get back to the interview?

Eddie (His phone vibrates): Sorry...I have a call. It's work. I have to run. Thank you for your time.


LMH: Thank--  (door slams) And there he goes. The work of a police officer is never done, I suppose. Tune in tomorrow when we'll meet with Rafi. And hopefully, he won't be quite as reluctant to talk with us!

Interview with Captain Eddie Corredor

Welcome back! Today, I continue with interview number 4 of our nine character interviews, one each day leading up to the day 10 (July 1) release of The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods. After you get to know a little bit about Captain Eddie Corredor (very little, actually!) be sure to head over to the contact page on my website. Send a message to enter for today's drawing for a free book. No worries about privacy: the message comes directly to me, so no one else sees your name or contact information, and I don't share the info with anyone. Do be sure to stop back every day since you have to register each day for that day's drawing.

The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods
Coming July 1
from Casperian Books



Introducing Captain Eddie Corredor


Eddie Corredor has been with the Puerto Rico Police Department for over twenty years. He'd just started on the force when the chupacabra appeared for the first time back in the mid-90s. Twenty years later, he and his (work) partner, Hector Ruiz, discovered the truth behind the reported chupacabra sightings and mayhem those caused: the mayor had been donning a costume to instill fear into his constituents as a means to drum up votes and customers for his business, Monster Safaris, Inc. Their work earned Eddie and Ruiz promotions, and a bit of notoriety.

 
LMH: Welcome, Captain Corredor and congratulations on the promotion. It must be very difficult being an openly gay police officer in Puerto Rico, so I'd imagine the recognition for your good work is appreciated.

Eddie: Why is that? Shouldn't good work be rewarded and the recognition appreciated, regardless of race, age, creed, or sexual orientation? Good work is good work.

 

LMH: I just meant, well, not to offend you, but given the reputation of the PRPD? Not known for their honesty and trustworthiness, you know. They have a pretty bad and well-earned reputation for corruption and abuse of authority. It seems such an odd fit--everything about you contradicts what the force has come to represent on the island.

Eddie (shaking his head): A few bad apples, and they're the ones who make the news. That makes it tough for the rest of us. There are so many good, hardworking, and honest cops on the force. Guys who are there to fight against that reputation and the tide of corruption. Don't let the bad press fool you. Most of us are caring, compassionate, and take the public's trust seriously.

 
LMH: Good to know. Now, about that job. Law enforcement is dangerous work. It has to be awfully stressful on your loved ones. How does Rafi deal with the constant worry?

Eddie: My personal life is off limits for interviews.


LMH: What? Why?

Eddie: I've been burned more than once before. Reporters like Miguel Graciento over at that gossip rag, En Otras Noticias, twist the truth and use innuendo and hearsay to sensationalize their stories--and that's all they are, stories. Make believe. Not information. People think the police are corrupt? Graciento was involved up to his eyeballs in that Monster Safaris business. It's unconscionable that he'd be back reporting the "news" and that they'd let him write another story about the chupacabra after that.


LMH: OK, I can understand your reluctance, but I'm not a reporter. I'm an author. You do know that people will read all about you and Rafi in The Un-Familiar, right?

Eddie: I know. Sorry. The media is just a touchy subject for me. The fourth estate. Ha! You know what Oscar Wilde wrote about the fourth estate, don't you? That it may have been the fourth estate when that term was coined, the other three being branches of government, but now it's the only one--it ate the other three.

 
LMH: Interesting. Can we get back to the interview?

Eddie (His phone vibrates): Sorry...I have a call. It's work. I have to run. Thank you for your time.
 

LMH: Thank--  (door slams) And there he goes. The work of a police officer is never done, I suppose. Tune in tomorrow when we'll meet with Rafi. And hopefully, he won't be quite as reluctant to talk with us!

Now it's time for you to head over the contact page on my website to enter for your chance to WIN a book! Just send a message to me to enter. Congratulations to yesterday's winner, Jennifer Killby!

Friday, June 24, 2016

An Interview with Kiki Cristatello

To celebrate the publication of my third novel, The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods (the sequel to Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons), I'm posting character interviews for the nine days leading up to the July 1 release. I'm also GIVING AWAY BOOKS!





Yes, you read that correctly. I'm giving away one book each day until July 1. All you have to do to enter your name in the drawing is to stop by my website at http://www.lynnehinkey.com and send a message via the contact page. Your message comes right to my email box, so no names or email addresses and comments posted on the page, and no one else will get their hands on your contact information to spam you with offers. I start fresh each day, so if you enter but don't win, be sure to stop back the next day and try again.

So, on to the interview! (And scroll down to see the interviews with Sra Milagros Hernan from 6/22 and with Carmen del toro from 6/23).

 
Introducing Kiki Cristatello
 
Today I'm talking with Kiki Cristatello, our youngest cast member at 16. Kiki seems to be over her obsession with the occult: she's given up her black hair dye, nail polish, and heavy eyeliner and is back to her regular blonde haired, freckle-faced girl next door look.

 

LMH: Thanks for joining us, Kiki. Why don't you tell us what you've been up to in the two years since Muggle die--Sorry, I mean, since the end of Ye Gods!

Kiki: Seriously? Why does everyone think they have to tiptoe around that? I mean, he's been gone for two years. You all treat me like I'm still a kid who needs to be coddled. I'm sixteen you know. And starting college--that's two years ahead of schedule if you care to do the math. And I landed a work-study position in the marine science department. I'm like the only freshman to get one in like forever. You know, freshmen usually get some menial gopher job in an administrative office. Not me. I'm going to work for Dr. Raines.


LMH: Oh, okay. I didn't mean to offend you. Congratulations on the job with Dr. Raines. It sounds like you're over Muggle I guess, and as I said in the introduction, I take it the new natural hair color means you're over your magic fetish? No longer waiting for your letter from Hogwarts?

Kiki: Ha. Ha. You're so funny. I do understand what fiction means and know there's no Hogwarts. And we all know there was no reason to "get over" Muggle. The dog will return. He always has. He was Paco, and before that, Toby. He never really went away. Not completely. He was just on a...hiatus. But now he's back and wait 'til you see him, er, her, he's in a she body, so I guess he's a girl, or at least Chewy is a girl, but I'm not sure if that makes the god a girl, or a boy in a girl's body.


LMH: Kiki, can we get--

Kiki: Would that make him a transvestite? I should ask someone about that. I don't think I know any transvestites, but I do know a gay couple. But I know that's not the same thing, but I should ask my friend--well, you know them, too. I mean, you do if you've read Ye Gods! Although we didn't actually meet Eddie's boyfriend, Rafi. Wait 'til you meet--

 
LMH: Excuse me, Kiki?

Kiki: --him. O-M-G, he is sooooooo hot. Eddie is wicked lucky. And he's sweet and you should see how good he is with all the animals. Especially Chewy. She just---

 
LMH: KIKI! I hate to interrupt, but can we get back to the interview?

Kiki: Sure. It's your gig. What's the next question?

 
LMH (checking my note cards): Damn. OK, continue. I was going to ask you about your friendship with Rafi.

Kiki (with a shrug): He's just awesomely sweet and a hottie, and everyone loves him. All the readers will too, I just know it. That's all. I'm done. Next?


LMH: That's all I have. Any last words?

Kiki (sniggering): Oh boy, do I ever have the last words. But, you'll have to read The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods to see what they are.

LMH: Thank y--

KIKI: Oh, and one more thing...I have to give a shout out to the president of my fan club. Did you know I have a fan club? Yep, I do. So, hola and abracitos---that's hello and hugs in Spanish, for all you monolingual-types--to T. Francis Sharp. He's also the author of Second Dead. You should check that out too, especially if you're into the whole zombie apocalypse thing, with undead, female teenagers that kick ass...can I say that? I hope so because I just did, and--get this--a mystical cat!

 
Now it's time to head over to my website and send a message via the contact page to enter for today's chance to win a free book! Congratulations to yesterday's winner, Bob Sanchez!