March 7, 2014 06:43:14
Posted By Susan Bernhardt
Today I am anticipating the first day of spring. Spring
ideas of rebirth, regrowth, and rejuvenation. It's the time
days are close to twelve hours long. And no other season
more visual images to mind, perpetual astonishments of new
bursting all over ...
"Come, gentle Spring! Ethereal Mildness! Come." ~ James
The top ten things that I am looking forward to this
Spring. (Not in any order.)
1. Flowers - Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths.
2. Anticipating my travels this year with my husband -
Planning and dreaming is half the fun.
3. The warmer weather - Being able to take walks outside
daily basis. Having the windows open in the house.
4. Bike rides.
5. Getting our new sunroom finished and decorated – My
new place to
6. Planning my garden – Daydreaming in my garden.
7. Weekend getaways – Art museums – Concerts – The beach.
8. Cookouts, picnics, socializing more with friends.
9. Locally grown fruits, vegetables.
10. Longer days. More hours of sunlight.
What are your favorite things that you look forward to
March 2, 2014 12:17:15
Posted By Susan Bernhardt
Hi Susan, thanks so much for inviting me to your lovely
My pleasure. Helena, please tell us about yourself.
I live in the north of England in an old Victorian mill
town, with my husband and my rescue dog, Lex. I write
romances – and read everything!
What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve always wanted to write, but wanting to write and
actually doing it are two very different things, as every
writer knows! My husband was the one who finally motivated me
and got me to sit down and Just Do It.
Just Do It, is excellent advice. What kind of research
did you do for your books?
I like to write mainly from what I know, but if there is a
scene that requires me to research, I do what a lot of people
do these days, and turn to Google first. In a book I’ve just
finished writing, the hero, who is terrified of flying, does a
parachute jump. I can well relate to the terror – the fear of
flying was no problem to describe whatsoever! – but there is
absolutely no way you would get me to jump out of a plane,
even if publication depended on it. Instead, I watched video
after stomach knotting video on the internet, until I feel if
I actually had to, I’d know exactly how to use an altimeter.
Let’s hope I NEVER have to! I really enjoyed writing the
scene – but would hate to be in it!
That's interesting. What's a typical working day like
for you? When and where do you write?
I get up early and write for an hour before taking my dog
out. My dog is highly active. She’s a rescue dog, very
nervous and highly-strung. A long walk helps keep her to keep
calm and work off some of her nervous energy. We go out on
the moors, where we don’t see many people, and where my dog
can run free without getting stressed. The solitude is also
great for thinking and mulling over plot lines. After a long
walk my dog sleeps on the settee next to me, and I spend the
I've seen the photos of your moors. Breathtaking!
What's the hardest part of writing for you? Here I am not
talking about marketing.
I’m the world’s greatest prevaricator. I’d sooner do
anything rather than just sit down and get on with writing.
It’s an effort of will. Once I’ve actually sat down to write,
though, often the words just flow really quickly. Other days,
a scene just won’t go as I want it, and every single word is
forced out in the most painful way. I might spend two days
writing and rewriting just to get down 500 words. It’s funny,
though, when I read those painstaking scenes back later, they
seem to flow just as easily as the scenes that were easier to
write. It’s very strange!
Helena, what other passions besides writing do you
I love reading, and read a lot of genres besides romance.
I’m just re-reading Patrick O’Brian’s fabulous sea-faring
adventure Master and Commander. I also love music. I used to
listen to a lot of classical music when I was younger, but
that got swept away by the rise of punk! Now I find I’m
increasingly turning to classical music again, and I’m
enjoying going to classical concerts.
Sounds lovely, What do you do for rest and relaxation?
Reading is my favourite way to relax! Besides reading, I
love to knit and sew. I’m just knitting a cable cover for my
iPad mini. I also love embroidery. Both these pastimes a
therapeutic, in a way that reading sometimes isn’t. My mind
goes clear when I’m knitting or sewing.
Thanks for your great questions, Susan. They made me think
hard about how I write. And thanks for being such a gracious
Thanks, Helena for agreeing to an interview. Best
wishes on your novels.
March 2, 2014 12:14:53
Posted By Susan Bernhardt
Helena Fairfax is the author of The Antique Love.
Here is the blurb:
One rainy day in London, Wyoming man Kurt Bold walks into an
antique shop off the King’s Road and straight into the dreams of
its owner, Penny Rosas. Lively, spirited and imaginative, Penny
takes this handsome stranger for a romantic cowboy straight from
the pages of a book. Kurt certainly looks every inch the hero…but
he soon brings Penny’s dreams to earth with a thump. His job is in
the City, in the logical world of finance—and as far as Kurt is
concerned, romance is just for dreamers. Events in his childhood
have shown him just how destructive love can be. Now he’s looking
for a wife, right enough, but what he wants is a marriage based on
logic and rational decisions. Kurt treats Penny like he would his
kid sister, but when he hires her to help refurbish his beautiful
Victorian house near Richmond Park, it’s not long before he starts
to realise it’s not just his home she’s breathing life into. The
logical heart he has guarded so carefully all these years is
opening up to new emotions, in a most disturbing way…
The Antique Love is available from Amazon,
iTunes, B&N and most retailers selling e-books.
If you’d like to know more about Helena, please drop in and
visit her on her blog www.helenafairfax.com, or Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/HelenaFairfax or Twitter @helenafairfax.
Helena loves to meet new people!
February 18, 2014 01:28:03
Posted By Susan Bernhardt
Today I am interviewing Heather Fraser Brainerd and David
Heather Fraser Brainerd is a renaissance woman. After earning a
degree in Anthropology,she embarked on an incongruous career as a
workers’ compensation insurance adjuster. She rapidly climbed the
claims-handling ladder before surprising her colleagues by leaving
the high-powered world of lumbar strains and carpal tunnel
syndrome to run a child care center. Thousands of dirty diapers
and gallons of strained peas later, she decided that maybe the
insurance industry wasn’t quite as bad as she remembered.
Unfortunately, it was. Fortunately, a few years later, she met the
most wonderful man in the world. Now a stay-home mom to three
amazing boys, she is able, at long last, to focuson her writing.
Heather lives in New York with her family and their crazy
David Fraser was born on March 25, 1973. March 25,
incidentally, is International WaffleDay (Varfudagn in Sweden) and
Tolkien Reading Day (The Ring was destroyed on March 25). Elton
John shares his birthday. So next March 25, you should eat a
waffle while reading Lord of the Rings and listening to Rocket
Man. I know Dave will. Before deciding to become an
internationally-famous author, Dave held a number of different
jobs. He processed small business insurance policy changes, tested
software on digital copier/printers, put out little orange flags
in pick-your-own strawberry fields, installed internet cable in
schools, shelved books in a library, taught college calculus, and
handed out raffle tickets at a Barry Manilow concert. Granted,
this last job was a one day temp job, but it was awesome. He
currently does little fix-up jobs around his house and chauffeurs
his kids while trying to find time to write.
* * * *
Heather and David, I recently read your first José Picada
book, José Picada, P.I.: Deception Al Dente and thought it
was terrific. What inspired you to write your first book?
Heather: Well, thank you! Let’s see… I was walking my
crazy rescue dog when I spotted a “For Sale” sign up ahead. The
realtor’s name: José Picada. It caught my attention, since it was
a rather exotic name for our little town. As I drew closer to the
sign, I saw that my middle-aged eyes had played a trick on me, and
that the name was something much more common for our neck of the
woods. I had a chuckle, my mind filling with the comic potential
of such a mix-up. I went home, called Dave and told him about it,
and the next day received the opening scene of Deception Al Dente
in my inbox. It was awesome.
Dave: And at that point, the plan wasn't to write a
series of books. It wasn't even to write one book. It was just to
play around, sending this silly story back and forth, like the
pass-a-story we used to do when we were kids. Several thousand
words into it, it sort of dawned on me. Maybe we could do
something with this once it was finished. It wasn't too terrible.
Your books have a paranormal aspect in them. What kind of
research did you do for your book?
Heather: I loooove research. Dave hates it. Any time
there’s a chance to google something that fascinates me, I jump
right on it. Dave is happy to let me. Also, a couple of trips to
New Orleans helped to set the voodoo vibe.
Dave:The main reason I hate research is because I end up
wasting too much time thanks to a short attention span. I easily
get sidetracked. For example, I might hop over to Wikipedia to
look up how tall the George Washington Bridge is. The next thing I
know, it's an hour later and I'm looking up Battlestar Galactica
parodies on YouTube. So, yeah, I'd say that most of my research
for the book consisted of watching Battlestar Galactica.
February 18, 2014 09:06:52
Posted By Susan Bernhardt
Are any of the experiences of your protagonist or
characters based on someone you know? Did you ever feel as if
you were one of the characters?
Heather:Well, the main character, Josie, has a
degree in Video Art and had a career handling Workers’
Compensation claims before striking it out on her own as a
Private Investigator. Dave has a degree in Video Art (along
with one in Math – he’s very complex). I had a career handling
Workers’ Comp claims. So, yeah, we both drew on our
experiences for Josie’s history. She’s a lot more stubborn and
slovenly than either of us, though. But we like that about
Dave: Apparently Heather fails to recall my rather
messy living conditions prior to getting married. I would not
say that Josie is more slovenly than me, or at least the
bachelor version of me. I try to avoid basing characters on
real people, just to make sure some friend or relative doesn't
take my good-humored jibe the wrong way and come after me with
a baseball bat. That's a shame, too. We know plenty of good
characters. Uncle Barbara, I'm looking in your direction.
You are a brother sister team. Besides the distance that
you live from each other, what is the hardest part of writing
Heather: Nothing, really. We’re very in synch. Or
maybe we’re more like the Backstreet Boys. Either way, we
really get each other. And if one of us is having writer’s
block, they just kick it over to the other for a bit. If we’re
both blocked, a nice long phone call gets things sorted out.
Dave:There have been plenty of calls that were
supposed to be ten minutes, but end after an hour and a half.
So maybe the hardest part is the phone bill. And then there's
the whole DUCK tape vs. DUCT tape issue. Oh, the heated
arguments we've had over that one.
Heather:Ah, yes. The great duck/duct tape debate.
What books have most influenced your writing style? Your
Heather: I absolutely love the Blue Rose trilogy by
Peter Straub. He’s a very visual writer, which has influenced
me greatly. As far as what books have influenced my life, I’d
have to say Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life, no contest.
Dave: I'd say that the book that most influenced my
writing would be José Picada, P.I.: Deception Al Dente, by
Heather Fraser Brainerd and David Fraser. It taught me the
value of endearing characters, hilarious dialogue, surprise
endings, and shameless self-promotion. You should all buy a
copy, as well as its sequel, The Sound of Sirens. My answer to
part two of the question is: José Picada, P.I.: Deception Al
Dente, by Heather Fraser Brainerd and David Fraser.
Please tell us what your current projects are.
Heather: We are currently putting the finishing
touches on the third installment of José Picada, while
simultaneously starting the fourth (and final) book. We’ve had
our first Middle Grade novel, Shadows of New York,
accepted for publication, so we’re awaiting the first round of
edits on that. It’s humor/paranormal, like most of our stuff.
Heather and David's books:
Deception Al Dente by Heather Fraser Brainerd and
David Fraser(Book One in the José Picada, P.I. Series)MuseItUp
The Sound of Sirens by Heather Fraser Brainerd and
David Fraser(Book Two in the José Picada, P.I. Series)MuseItUp
Dream Shade by Heather Fraser BrainerdMuseItUp
The First Last Robot by David FraserGreyhart Press: