And the winner of the hand beaded custom book thong, chosen using RANDOM.ORG, is commenter #4, Cathy M. I will be in touch, to get the specifications and colors you want. Thank you all for stopping by to comment.
Hunting Human with Amanda Alvarez
First, I want to Welcome Amanda Alvarez to My Odd Little World. Thank you for sharing some time here with us. Could you tell us a bit about yourself, please, before you jump into my questions?
A: First, thank you so much for having me by today! A little about me… well, I’m 29, I live in Dallas and I currently have a day job so writing is something I have to squeeze in between the gym and sleep. I have two cats, one jumbo-sized the other shrimpy. The own me and they know it. J
Favorite thing about being an author? Thing that surprised you the most about being published? What is hardest part of being a writer?
A: My favorite thing about being an author is the constant change and discovery that goes on. Every day is different and every day is fascinating. (Even the ones that make me want to poke my eyes out in frustration.) I think the thing that surprised me most about being published was, well, being published. I loved writing Hunting Human and I learned a lot in the process but because it was my first novel my expectations were rather low. J The hardest part of being a writer is finding the time (and motivation) to write. I think about writing a lot but timing is always an issue as I do have a demanding day job and I’m a master procrastinator.
What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
A: I’m a total outliner. I simply can’t write if I don’t know where I’m going. That’s not to say that I know every detail of every scene, but I have to have a path forward. Sometimes this is problematic when I’m trying to hammer out a word count every day.
What fuels you as an author to continue to write?
A: For me, it has to start with me, I have to have an idea that I love. I’ll also be honest and say that success, in all its varying forms motivates me. A good review might make my day; feedback from my fellow writers on a current project might keep me motivated. I’m also a fairly competitive person, so I’m always reaching for that next level of success, no matter what it is.
What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
A: I think the best thing is getting to experience a novel from a completely different point of view. I’ve always been an avid reader and writing now gives me an outlet to really explore those ‘what if’ questions. I think the worst thing about being a writer has to be the time it takes away from reading. I often find I have to choose between curling up and reading a new book or going to Starbucks and working on my own.
Do you bring your own life experiences to your writing? Your own personality? If so how?
A: In general, no I don’t think I bring much of personality or life experiences to my writing. Occasionally things will filter in when I don’t notice but I don’t set out with that intention. I find it easier to create interesting and dynamic characters if I step fully out of my own skin and invest in the people I’m creating. I will say that often I will start a character sketch by thinking of a trait or ability that I really admire and drawing out a character from there.
If you could write in any other genre what would it be, and why?
A: YA. I love YA books, they have so very much to offer and I come across such interesting plot lines and characters. Plus, I think there is something really interesting in combining action, adventure and romance with a character just coming of age.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
A: You can find me here: Facebook, On The Web, Twitter
Can you tell us a bit about what book(s) you have coming out next and what you’re working on now?
A: Hunting Human, my debut release, launched on March 28, 2011. Here’s the book blurb:
For two years, Beth Williams has run from the past, and the beast that dwells inside her. She is haunted by memories of being kidnapped and the savage attack that killed her best friend. Now Beth finally thinks she's ready to move on...with Braden Edwards, a charming, irresistibly sexy man who tempts Beth to embrace the present.
But the past lurks closer than Beth realizes. Markko Bolvek, one of the werewolves who kidnapped her, has tracked her to Portland, Oregon, his pursuit fueled by a hunger for vengeance. Only Braden, a werewolf himself, senses the danger shadowing her steps. The Edwards and Bolveks have been enemies for centuries and despite the instant connection he feels with Beth, Braden isn't sure which side of the war she's on.
With suspicion at odds with their attraction, Beth and Braden must learn to trust one another to stop Markko for good. Can Beth accept the wolf within and love a man who embodies everything she fears?
Right now I’m just getting into the thick of my second novel, a romantic suspense with paranormal elements.
What book are you reading now? What are your thoughts on it?
A: I started Cherry Adair’s Undertow several weeks ago and I’m only a chapter or so in. I’ve just been too busy to read lately but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it when I have time to snuggle in and invest in the story.
Favorite authors? Have any particularly influenced your writing or your choice of genre? If you could meet any author who would it be? (Living or dead)
A: I love JK Rowling and I’d definitely love to meet her. The Harry Potter series was just amazing. The details, the characters, the settings, I loved it. I’ve also really enjoyed Dean Koontz in the past and I think Iris Johansen does a wonderful job of combining interesting characters, romance and suspense all in a single book.
What is your favorite food and what is your guilty pleasure food?
A: I’m not a picky eater so I doubt I could ever pick a favorite food but I do tend to lean toward the spicy end of the scale. Mexican and Chinese are always winners. I also love chocolate; dark chocolate is a particular guilty pleasure for me.
What do you think is romantic? What does the word Romance mean to you?
A: Tough question! I think for me romance boils down to a person who not only understands you, but really wants to understand you. For me it would be all about the little things, the everyday gestures and phrases that make a relationship last.
Do you have a secret talent?
A: I can fly! Just kidding, on the talented front I’d say I’m pretty average.
Do you have any animals? Do they influence your writing?
A: I have two cats. They haven’t influenced my writing yet but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to figure out a book?
A: I haven’t gotten that far in researching a book yet! Most of my research has been done online… though I did consider asking my friend to lock me in the trunk of her car. Thankfully I found a very useful YouTube video instead.
You’ve been given the honor of naming a planet, what would you name it?
A: Cool! And now that I’ve been staring at this question for fifteen minutes I have no idea! I’m really not good at naming things… I don’t even know what it looks like! *epic fail* Ohhh, maybe that would be the name… Planet Epic Fail. We could banish things there, like low calorie cupcakes or sugarless chocolate…
If you were in a rock band what would the name of your band be? What would your rocker name be?
A: Doppelganger. I have a doppelganger named Amanda. She’s a writer too. We met a few years ago in a writing class. Turns out we have a lot in common. We’d both keep our names for the band. J
Aliens have landed on the planet. What are the three things you would tell them that are great about this planet?
A: Chocolate, books and Jake Gyllenhaal. J
You have been locked in a mall and told you can get anything you want and when they open in the morning you won’t have to pay a single cent. What stores would you hit? Better question how would you haul away all your loot?
A: I’d start with one of those fancy cars they park on display in the middle of the mall. I’d rev up the engine and go store to store… I bet if I had all night I could find something in every single store. It would be like a challenge! A wonderful, wonderful challenge!
And finally, have you got a sneak peek excerpt from your current work in progress you can share with my readers and me?
A: I wish I did! How about I give you a sneak peak from Hunting Human instead? Since so much of the novel is dark, how about a bit a fun and flirting between Beth and Braden?
“We didn’t really get around to talking much about what you’ve done over the last several years, something tells me you weren’t always working in coffee shops.”
“No. That’s a more recent development.”
“So, what were you doing before? I’m dying of curiosity here.” When she paused, Braden pushed. “Alright, I’ll guess.” He furrowed his brow, as though giving it careful consideration, then said, “You were a Las Vegas showgirl.”
“God, no.” Beth choked on a laugh. “Stage fright.”
“You ran a scuba shop in Cozumel.”
“I’m a terrible swimmer.”
“You weren’t a yoga teacher, were you?” Braden gave her a playful leer, “’Cause while I’m down with flexibility, I’m not sure I can deal with chanting and the scent of patchouli.”
“Yoga enthusiasts everywhere are offended by your terrible generalizations. But no.”
“So does that mean you aren’t flexible?”
A pointy elbow to the ribs was the only response she gave.
“Definitely not that noble. I like my modern amenities.”
“Oh, oh, I know. You could tell me, but then you’d have to kill me, right? Please tell me you know thirty different ways to kill a man with your bare hands…”
Beth snorted at his ridiculousness.
“What? Female spies are sexy.”
“Sorry to disappoint. I don’t know thirty ways to kill a man with my bare hands.”
“Damn. So no skin tight cat-suit either, huh?”
She laughed, full and delighted. “Where do you come up with this stuff?”
“Hey, a man’s imagination is a dangerous place. Care to rescue me?”
“I was in college.”
“College, huh? Let me guess, underwater basket weaving?”
“Architecture.” Surprise stole across his face. “With a minor in mayhem and destruction.”
“No. I minored in photography.”
“An architect and a photographer.” He inspected her closely, as though seeing an entirely new side of her.
“You sound disappointed. But, then, I guess it isn’t as exciting as a female spy.”
“I’m intrigued. Why aren’t you in some office somewhere, designing suburban America?”
Beth shrugged. What could she say to that? She didn’t want to lie and she didn’t want to leave the question between them. Whether it was pride or the desire to share something with him, she wasn’t quite sure. “I’d planned on continuing school, getting my master’s. I never thought I’d end up taking time off, working odd jobs.” Beth took a moment and collected her thoughts. “Some days it still surprises me, but I didn’t see a lot of things coming and after…” Oh, God, she wasn’t sure she could say it. “After…”
His hand, warm and steady, squeezed her shoulder. “I can’t imagine how hard it must have been when your mom died. That kind of loss would derail anyone’s plans.”
Beth glanced up, surprised at the gentle concern in his expression. Even if his assumptions weren’t exactly accurate, they were close enough. It was easy to reach up and press the hand he had draped around her shoulders. “Thank you.”
Silence fell between them and though she knew he would drop the conversation, Beth found, much to her surprise, that she wasn’t ready. “A lot of people didn’t understand why I just couldn’t go ahead with my plans. But I just…” She blew out a frustrated breath.
“Couldn’t go forward as though your world hadn’t completely shifted?” They rounded the corner and entered the parking lot, Beth’s Jeep the only car left.
“Yeah. It just felt wrong. Like that future wasn’t there anymore.” She shrugged a little. “That must sound ridiculous.”
“Not at all. Losing your mom was a major change in your life, it would take a pretty cold person to move forward as though it hadn’t happened.”
“I guess. I think I needed a little time to adjust, to figure things out. I’ve been pretty restless since. Moved around, took a few different types of jobs. Just recently I’ve started thinking about staying in one place, maybe going back to school.” She stopped next to her Jeep, pulling her keys out of her purse. “Small steps, I guess.”
“You’ll figure it out.” His fingertips brushed her cheek as he pushed an escaping tendril of hair behind her ear. “No matter the circumstances, I’m glad you’re here.”
She seized a moment of bravery and allowed her hand to curl around the soft silk of his tie and pull him closer, pressing her mouth against his. His lips were warm and pliant against hers, but the way he held himself perfectly still broadcasted his surprise. Beth eased down off her toes and let the cool silk slip through her fingers, ending the kiss on a soft sigh. “Thanks.”
His brow settled into a line of confusion and it took a moment for his gaze to focus on her face again. “What for?”
Beth let a little shrug escape her. “Tonight. Listening.”
“Uh-huh.” His warm hands slid around her, one settling at the hollow of her back and the other sliding up, a warm caress against the thin material of her dress. “I’ve wanted to do this again all night.” His lips, still stretched in a smile, found hers. Beth tilted her head, letting her arms settle around his neck, one hand threading through the thick hair just above his collar. That small action snapped his restraint; warm and gentle slipped quickly into hot and consuming. It was the sort of kiss that simultaneously managed to fire every nerve in her body and completely fade the rest of the world away, leaving her senses to focus exclusively on the long, male body, warm and solid against hers.
"Just pick one. There's a blonde by the bar, tits that bounce every time she laughs."
Markko snorted. She was, as Alek said, blonde. Generous tits. American, judging by her clothing. And completely oblivious to the predators in the room.
"She'll scream," Alek offered, eyes never leaving the woman. "Probably beg..."
"They all scream." Markko grunted in frustration, tossed his cigarette to the floor and ground it out. "They all beg."
"You say it like it's a bad thing." Alek sighed and shifted, adjusting his crotch, with his gaze still locked on the blonde.
Markko looked away from the girl, his eyes moving over the crowd. "Forget the blonde. We aren't here to indulge your preferences."
"Fine," Alek grumbled.
Markko stalked away from him, shoving through the throng of dancers. He sneered at the smell of them: sex, sweat and alcohol. As remarkable as the rodents that scurried along the forest floor. None of them interesting. None of them challenging.
None of them worthy.
This was for Ivan. A celebration of his baby brother's birthright.
I'll find the one that makes it memorable.
Rachel always managed to talk her into these things.
One. I agreed to one drink.
Liz sighed. She should have known better; she never seemed to learn her lesson. Now, three and half hours, two pubs and one seedy after-hours club later, bad American '80s music blared from the speakers and her tennis shoes kept sticking to whatever concoction covered the floor. She was fairly certain her ears were bleeding and so much smoke hung in the air that her eyelids were beginning to feel like sandpaper.
Time to end the evening.
Liz worked her way back to the bar where she had left Rachel with several other hostel residents they'd been hanging out with for most of the night. Rachel's flirty laugh—the one that signaled she was more than a little tipsy—bubbled out past the circle of guys surrounding her bar stool. Liz maneuvered past and slid through bodies, making her way up to Rachel, who was laughing, flashing perfect white teeth and tossing her straight blonde hair. The pint in her hand, the one that had been nearly empty when Liz went to find the bathroom, was full again. How many did that make? Liz had no idea. It was harder to keep track when Rachel wasn't paying for them herself.
"Rachel..." Someone shouldered their way to the bar, shoving Liz forward. She made a desperate grab for the countertop, narrowly avoiding crashing into her friend. She didn't manage to avoid Rachel's full pint. Grimacing as the liquid soaked into the bottom of her sweater and the top of her jeans, she shot an offended glare over her shoulder.