Sunday, June 26, 2011

Guest Author: C.L. Kraemer

Today my special guest is C.L. Kraemer who writes contemporary women's fiction, fantasy, and mystery. Let's take a quick look at her newest release, Dragons Among the Eagles.

C. L. Kraemer is a traveler, a way of life started when her father served in the US Marine Corp. She’s carried on the traditional seeing most of the continental United States as well as Hawaii and Alaska. She hopes to experience the world but is content to stay close to her family in the Northwest in Oregon—for the moment.

Current/upcoming works: Just released-Dragons Among the Eagles; upcoming – Shattered Tomorrows- October 2011; Joker’s Wild – December 2011; Dragons Among the Ice – January 2012

Short excerpt from Dragons Among the Eagles:

Cinder, short for Cinderella, Simmons paced the floor.

“Come on, come on! Answer your phone!”

She threw her cell across the room to the divan.

“Ahhh! She’s been home for two days and hasn’t called me. Something is wrong!”

Throwing common sense to the wind, Cinder jumped in her car and sped through early morning Portland traffic to her friend, Aleda Sable’s, house. It wasn’t like Aleda not to call the minute she returned from a vacation and fill Cinder in on all the happenings. The most important question was, had Allie finally met a man?

At Aleda’s driveway, Cinder hopped out of her car. Running up the steps, she tried the handle of the front door. It was locked.

Cinder frowned. “Mistake, girlfriend. I know where you hide the key.”

She skipped down the steps and made her way to the side of the house, counting the stones lining the flowerbed. Lifting up the tenth rock, she was knocked back when the spare key wasn’t in place.

Running back to the front, Cinder pounded on the wooden entry, yelling. About the time she was pulling out her cell phone to call the police, the door opened an inch.

“What the heck is going on here?” Aleda’s hair stood in fifteen different directions, her eyes were half shut and she looked very unhappy.

“Oh, thank goodness! I was worried something had happened.” Cinder pushed past the groggy Aleda and flopped on the couch. “Do you know the key is missing from the rock?”

“Yes. I brought it inside so I could get some rest.”

“Oh?” Cinder sat forward on the seat. “Spill.”

Aleda shut the door. “Not until I’ve brushed my teeth and made some coffee. I can’t function without coffee.”

Cinder huffed a breath through her lips. “Make it snappy, girlfriend. You’ve a lot of sharing to do."

~ * ~

Aleda’s best friend, Cinder, was almost as tenacious as Warren her boss. How did she get these people in her life? Completing her bathroom routine, she changed into jeans and an Oxford-styled, button down, long sleeve shirt. Brown slip-ons kept her feet from being too cold as she went to the kitchen to create the fluid that would give her life--coffee, espresso, to be exact.

When both girls had settled in and sat cradling their cups, Aleda looked at Cinder.

“Why in the heck are you here? Shouldn’t you be working?”

“Oh, puleese! How do you think I could possibly work after you’ve just come home from ten days away? I want details, girlfriend, juicy-don’t-miss-a-single-thing details. Did you meet a man? Is he handsome? When do I get to meet him? Give.”

A small smile touched the corner of Aleda’s mouth. She could truthfully tell her best friend she’d not met a man.

“Sorry, Cinder, no man.”

“I don’t believe you.” The young café colored woman narrowed brown eyes at Aleda. “I think you met someone and you’re trying to hide him from me.”

If you only knew how true your statement was, you’d have a coronary.

Aleda sipped the bitter nectar from her cup. “Why would I lie to you? You’ll just hound me until I tell you every detail of my trip, making life miserable should I decide to keep any small smidgen of the story to myself.”

A smug expression stole over Cinder’s face. “You know me well.”

“Yeah, since grade school, Miss Thing. You’ll just have to trust my word I didn’t meet a man. I was clear up in some forsaken valley in who-knows-where-North China because Warren received a tip there were dragons sighted.”

Cinder dropped her feet to the floor. “Dragons! Has he absolutely lost his mind this time?”

Aleda shrugged her shoulders. “Heck, he paid for the trip. I saw part of the world where very few people have traveled.”

“Well, duh! It’s the middle of nowhere, Allie. Why can’t he send you to Hawaii to investigate the goddess Péle or the Caribbean to check out zombies? Why Northern China?”

Cinder shivered all over. Heading to the kitchen, she tossed over her shoulder. “More espresso?”

“Yeah. I have to put my notes together and come up with another story to send to the paper.”

Cinder emerged from the kitchen with the small coffee container in her hand and a mischievous grin covering her face.

“I have the most delicious idea.”

Aleda held her cup still as Cinder filled it with black liquid inspiration.

“I’m afraid to ask.”

“Let me help you write your story.” Cinder’s espresso-colored eyes twinkled wickedly.

Aleda rolled her orbs skyward.

“This could get me in deep trouble.”

“Or you could win a Pulitzer. Who knows?

“Who knows indeed?”

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Cover Art; above

Please tell us about yourself.

My current family consists of one husband, one cat, three children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild. I also have a multitude of extended family all over the country. My childhood was spent moving from one side of the country to the other with my Marine Corps family. As a result, I have a bit of an itchy foot twice a year. To put it into perspective, I’ve lived from New Jersey to California and Florida to Oregon along with Alaska and Hawaii. I’ve put down temporary roots in fourteen different states. Currently, I’ve been rooted in Oregon with kids and grandkids. Think I’ll stay awhile.

While I was living in Florida, I garnered what college I have at the University of South Florida. I have a women’s fiction book, If Only, that covers some of that time of my life.

When I’m not hip deep in plot twists and world building, I like to unwind with Middle Eastern dance classes or touring the local countryside on the back end of our 93 Harley Softtail. As you can imagine, there are a couple stories waiting to be written using elements of each of these activities.

Tell us about your current writing project.

At present I’m in the midst of three stories.

1) Shattered Tomorrows is the fictionalization of a real event that happened in Salem, Oregon on May 1981. Long before the kids at Columbine decided to shoot up their high school, a lone gunman walked into a pub, the Oregon Museum, on Thursday night, May 7, 1981 and unloaded [reloading and firing again] a Browning 9mm into the crowd. Four were killed and nineteen were wounded. The gunman never expounded on why. My novel purports to give a reason and some closure to a town full of emotionally wounded friends and family.

2) Joker’s Wild is the mystery tale of a motorcycle ‘poker run’ being held in two locations on the same day. One is in the Antelope Valley in California; the other in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. In each poker run, there are a large portion of MCUBs [Middle Class Urban Bikers] participating. The idea of a poker run is each motorcyclist stops at a given location and pulls a card to make up a hand, i.e., poker hand, paying for the privilege to play with most of the money going to a specified charity. In this particular run, the Joker has been deemed a wild card and can be anything the rider wishes. However, each participant who draws the Joker card winds up dying. The organizers are scrambling to solve the riddle of the Joker before more riders die.

3) Dragons Among the Ice is the third in the ‘Dragons Among’ series and follows the Nordic dragons of the Ice countries after the international dragon conference in China. The dragons have experienced first hand the unexpected shifting and are trying to find a solution to help the shifters from becoming extinct. Li (?) and [Petra’s best friend] face the secret Li’s father has kept hidden and making the decision whether to expose him to the dragon/shifter community or holding the information to safe family honor. Petra and {_}, recently married, work feverishly on the solution to the shifting problem. When {_} unexpectedly shifted at the Norwegian conference the problem became real and personal. When Petra discovers she’s pregnant, the issue becomes immediate.

Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group?

I’m very fortunate that I have support from my friends; they’re wonderful for buying my books the moment they’re released, plus my family and a writing group. I think my husband hands out more of my business cards than I do and when he hears someone talking books, he’s very quick to mention that I write.

I’d moved from Oregon to California to be near my aging parents for about six years and found myself in a writing desert. I had little support for my craft so when I moved back to Oregon to be near my children, it was wonderful to be able to get in touch with my former writing partners. We have a writing group to help each other with the difficult tasks of getting through tough plot points, character building as well as marketing woes. They are great cheerleaders and always willing to go the extra mile to help with book signings.

If there is a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it?

I guess the most frustration I feel is not being able to write full time. I’m the breadwinner in my family and forced to work full time to pay bills.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

I try to write a little bit every night but mostly just go with the flow.

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?

When the need to clear my head and blow away the stress becomes overwhelming, I draft my husband and we ride the Harley. If I’m really stressed, I’ll suggest riding from our house to the coast, about an hour and a half away. Riding on the back of the bike all leathered up feeling the wind whip around my legs and being able to smell everything [good and bad!] makes me realize just how insignificant my worries are.

Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?

My mother was an avid reader and introduced me to reading and books at a very young age. I got hooked on Agatha Christie novels and still love rereading them. All of her books would fall into my ‘favorites’. I also fell in love with Mercedes Lackey’s fantasy novels.

Among your own books, have you a favorite? A favorite hero or heroine?

Whew! Like asking a mom which is her favorite child! I did enjoy writing the faerie stories; The Lending Library and Meadows of Gold because they teased my storytelling abilities. In these stories is a gnome warrior called Tiamoon. Patterned from an avatar in the World of Warcraft and the character a friend uses, she became a dominant player in the stories. She still nags me to continue her tale and who knows? Then there’s the Dragon series, a dozen books [so far] about dragons and shapeshifters in the 21st century. Each clan of dragons/shifters is from a unique part of the globe and trying to find their way in the modern world.

My romantic suspense stories were my first and all held a piece of me within the tales.

Which of your books has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?

The Lending Library pretty much wrote itself. I think I was just the means to an end. I find I have a difficult time with the dragon stories; not so much the fantasy end of things, but since I’ve put them in modern times as opposed to creating a world for them, I have to work out how events will flow smoothly and not have the reader guffawing in disbelief and putting the book down.

The book that was the most fun to write was my women’s fiction book, If Only. I revisited a place I’ve always been a little bit sorry I left, Tampa, Florida. I also what if’d the situation I left behind. I find I no longer daydream about what ‘might have’ happened after writing the story.

Which comes first; the story, the characters or the setting?

I believe my stories are character driven so the characters usually appear to me fully formed. Along the same line, the setting seems to just – appear—and the story normally falls right into place. Writing a series is prone to having a preset base of characters and settings.

What are the elements of a great romance for you?

I like the ‘things worked out’ of new-age romances. Happily ever after doesn’t feel quite right anymore but things worked out does. I want the couple to fight the attraction to the end. When they finally surrender I like the reader to smile and say, “I knew that was going to happen.” Nothing worth having is easy.

Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?

They control me. If I try to write them in a way they don’t want to be portrayed, I find myself feeling ‘blocked’. When I give in to their demands, the story comes so fast my fingers cramp trying to keep up.

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be more invested in my Middle Eastern dance, working out with a troupe and performing.

Are there any words of encouragement you have for unpublished writers?

Don’t ever stop doing what you love. No matter the genre, keep writing the stories you feel. Writing fads are like the tide; this month it’s vampires, next month cowboys, unless you write about vampire cowboys and can kill two birds with one stone! If you write the story that is in your heart, it will show in the manuscript. With all the new publishing houses online, there is a fit for every story written.

If one of your books became a movie, which one would you like to see up on screen and who do you see playing your characters?

All my readers who’ve read the first dragon book, Dragons Among Us, are adamant nearly rabid about this book being made into a movie. I see my books as movies as I write them so I understand what they mean. As for whom I’d like to see as the characters—it would be tough. All the dragon/shifters in the book are 6’2” or taller, women included. It’s part of the way they identify each other. Would be interesting to see how Hollywood handled the challenge.

Fill in the blank. Favorites:

Dessert – Key Lime Pie

City – Toss up between Honolulu and Tampa

Season – Summer/Fall

Type of hero – Tall, dark, handsome, dangerous looking

Type of heroine – independent, self sufficient, intelligent, sassy