Getting to Know Sabrina Rawson

Sabrina Rawson Blood OathHow did you start your writing career?

I began writing my first novel four years ago, however I spent many years before that taking a class here and there writing essays that I felt were phenomenal, but nothing had ever been published. I have always enjoyed writing.  My first book has a ton of errors in it and my second book is better, but my recent book, Blood Oath, is my baby.  I spent so much time perfecting the storyline, grammar and the character development.

Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you as a writer?

Survivors.  It doesn’t matter what type of adversity a person could be exposed to, they are my inspiration.  Recently, two women who went through cancer with me were my source of inspiration.  It was at that time I said why not, I’ll give my dream a try.  When they became terminal I cried because I was battling and winning when they were battling and losing.  One of them, Kim, she tells me to finish writing my book because “there is nothing wrong with having the time to follow your dreams.”  I spent two years writing my book in which six months was spent seeking professional advice and support stepping outside my comfort zone to achieve my dream of self-publication.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

Having to turn life off and put my headphones on.  Once I turn social media off and open up my files I am ready to go.  My storyline becomes my playground.  I have to be very diligent about what happens with my time when I am creating.  With this novel I took up the challenge of NaNoWriMo and completed my 50,000 words in 30 days.  Through that writing process I discovered if I became diligent with my time daily during the creation process of writing a novel, I could set aside several hours a day just for writing.  Some days I would write more and others I would just use for research, but every day I write no less than 1500 words.  I spend more time now working to brand myself with my audience, market my novels and creatively write than I did when I worked full time!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing this book?

That I could discipline myself to write daily.  By testing myself to adhere to this standard I found myself able to delve deep into the characters allowing the story to unfold in front of me.  My writing contemporary romance became fluid and visual.  I had a wonderful time exploring the depth of my character development with my daughter as she helped me to develop the difference between the psychopath and the sociopath.  It was fantastic to banter with someone about the book.  There was a time when we lived, ate and dreamed character/plot development.  Now THAT’s what I’m talking about!

What was the scariest moment of your life?

When my son died.  I thought, “What will life be like without him in it?”  I laughed when the men lowered him in the ground.  When he came into my life I thought, “What will life be like with you in it?”  Our time had come full circle and I knew when his beautiful white casket was lowered in the ground I would see him again.  That was twelve years ago this year and he passed when he was twelve.  It is no coincidence I remember that moment writing this to you having forgotten that thought until this very moment.

Continue reading

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Overton Scott Shares His Writing Process

Today’s guest post is by Overton Scott. In this post Mr. Scott shares his process in creating heroine Neen Ford in his series Battle Not With Monsters.

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Some writers start with an idea. I started with a character. Neen Ford, my heroine, originated in a conversation I had with my agent a couple of years ago. We were discussing the kind of books editors wanted to buy, and my agent said that everyone she talked to wanted strong female characters who weren’t afraid to kick ass.

Neen certainly isn’t shy about throwing a punch when necessary, but getting her to that point took some effort. Creating a character is about much more than choosing a name and a hair color. Neen needed a backstory, because the history of a character helps establish that character’s authenticity. Maybe Neen could execute a guillotine choke, but how did she get so good at it?

I sat down with a pencil and paper and started listing the things I wanted my character to be able to do. Then I matched her skill set with experiences. If she wanted to be able to take down an opponent, she needed some experience in karate or Brazilian jiu jitsu. She needed to be able to plant a spinning elbow in a rapist’s throat, so she must have studied Muy Thai, the combat sport of Thailand. I watched countless hours of mixed martial arts competitions and videos of fights, watching strikes and kicks and taking notes. When I felt that I could write a plausible action scene, I moved on to other aspects of Neen’s personality.

I envisioned her as a loner, who works minimum wage jobs as a security guard and a teacher of martial arts. Why is she a loner? For some reason, we don’t really read many thrillers with well-adjusted men or women as protagonists. It’s as if we can’t imagine a sane, normal person doing the violent stuff that is required to defeat the evil villain. So Neen needed an edge, and I gave her one. Lurking in the past is a nasty incident involving her father. Neen has been derailed by this incident, and so has her family.

From there I fleshed out details about Neen’s life. What kind of car would she drive? Not a nice one, since she’s scraping by. Her apartment wouldn’t be terrific either. She teaches in a dojo. What’s it look like? What is her relationship with her boss? What does she wear? How does she spend her free time?

Once I had Neen clearly established in my mind, I worked on the plot. Months before I even thought of Neen, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is an Orthodox priest. I’m not sure how the topic came up, but we discussed human trafficking from Eastern Europe into the U.S. I knew I wanted Neen to help someone and I thought the human trafficking angle would make an interesting premise for a novel. That sent me off in search of material about trafficking. I have to say, that research was pretty grim. I chose not to deal with the graphic detail in the novel, but I certainly read enough to say that when Neen goes after the traffickers, she does the right thing. And incidentally, there’s an Orthodox priest in the book. Wonder why?

The research is the interesting part. Next comes the plot. I’ll do a scene by scene outline of the book, noting generally what needs to be accomplished in each scene. When the outline is finished, I’ll start writing. Generally I try to do 1,000 words per day, and it will take 75-90 days to produce a first draft.

Then I have to do my least favorite thing: edit and proofread. I can spend as much time doing this and the rewrites that result from this process as I do writing the book. And it’s discouraging to realize that even though you may spend weeks editing, you’ll likely still miss something. It’s always good to get a second pair of eyes on the finished product.

The next step is publishing the book, but that’s a topic for another post. Thank you for inviting me to share a bit about my writing process. I hope readers will enjoy the book. If anyone wants to talk further about Neen, you can contact me at neenford@gmail.com, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/scottneenford.

Click to learn more about Battle Not with Monsters.

The Rain Trilogy Review and Promo

Rain-trilogy

My review:

From the opening chapter of Saving Rain I was drawn to the story of our heroine Raina. What struck me the most was how much she had been through and still managed to keep her humanity. There is something very innocent about Raina despite her circumstances.

Then there is Kas, a strong, protective man-in-charge with a heart of gold. In the series Karen-Ann Stewart effectively showed how violence against women affect the men in their lives who want to love and protect them. Even though Raina suffered the abuse of other men you see Kas fighting like hell to save her, and in the process dealing with his own realisation that he can only go so far with her in the healing process, the rest is up to her.

I loved Kas and Raina as a couple, they complimented each other very well. Their chemistry was undeniable from Saving Rain (book 1) .

I think this trilogy goes beyond the new adult genre, it felt more like an adult novel to me, because the characters were more emotionally mature than I’ve seen in other novels in the genre. I feel like it could attract readers in the adult contemporary, romance category. It was a good read, the author took the time to really get into the details of the characters lives. I am looking forward to reading more novels by Karen-Ann Stewart, I am definitely a fan! 5 stars all the way.

Read more about the Rain Trilogy.

So-Called Reasons for Child Marriage

Story by AYA BATRAWY Associated Press

Read the full story here.

So-called reasons for child marriage

In some countries, families encourage early marriage to protect young girls from premarital sex and to uphold a family’s honor, according to the report.

In one case, a young girl named Mariam was born in France to parents from Mali. She had never been to Mali until her father sent her at age 14 and her sister at 16 to a village while they were on vacation from school.

When they arrived, their father took their passports, and Mariam was told to marry her father’s cousin. Her sister was to marry the local imam, or preacher. Mariam eventually escaped with the help of a policeman she met during a visit to the village market, but her sister remains in Mali, the report said.

Sins of a father

In another case in Afghanistan, a 3-year-old girl’s father killed a man. To avoid prison, he handed his daughter over to the victim’s family, which regularly beat her and forced her to do household chores. At 10 she was raped by an older man in the family, and that same year she was married to a teenager from the family.

Her husband divorced her when she was 12and she was forced to marry the uncle who had raped her. It was not until she managed to run away that police helped her find shelter with a women’s organization. The uncle was arrested and is serving a 13-year sentence for rape, Equality Now said. Continue reading…

Join the Fight Against Sex-Slavery with Author Karen-Anne Stewart

Our guest post today is by author Karen-Anne Stewart. I am so thrilled to welcome her back to Plain Talk.

The Rain Trilogy is a powerful story of abuse, human trafficking, and beautiful, redeeming love. I have experience working with domestic abuse survivors, but I
wasn’t very familiar with sex-slavery, other than knowing it exists and is horrific.

This is not a happy or easy topic; in fact, it’s sickening and saddening. Throughout the research process for the trilogy, I spiraled through a myriad of emotions, anger being the most prevalent. Reading statistics and stories about what so many children, women, and even men, go through every minute of every day enraged me.

There were many times I had to walk away from my laptop because I simply couldn’t read any more of the horrors of this modern day slavery. I cried, wanted to scream, and even wanted to cause physical harm at times, while reading about what goes on in every country, every state, and every town. I have a daughter, and the thoughts of anything bad happening to her is paralyzing. Continue reading…

How You Can Help Victims of Human Trafficking

This post is brought to you by The Rain Trilogy author Karen-Anne Stewart.

When I researched human trafficking for The Rain Trilogy, I was horrified and enraged by what I learned.  I included the Human Trafficking Hotline number in the back of all three novels, but I want to become more actively involved.  I’m not a part of the Polaris Project but I learned about them while doing research and they have become close to my heart.

Here is how you can help.

Rain-trilogy

Karen-Anne is hosting a fundraiser for The Polaris Project (a wonderful organization that fights human trafficking in a holistic approach). She will be giving away one free e-book, winner’s choice of either Saving RainHealing Rain, or After the Rain – winners must be 18+ to enter. These books are awesome I am on the second novel Healing Rain, these books are well written, the story is compelling, a definite 5 star from me.

The way it will work is each person entering the rafflecopter will donate $1 through the link in the rafflecopter that goes directly to the Polaris Project peer2peer fundraising page and that person will be entered to win. Continue reading

The Polaris Project by Jovon Tucker

I am honored to welcome back guest blogger Jovon Tucker from Book2Buzz Productions. Today Jovon talks about Polaris Project.

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Human trafficking…modern slavery…sex trafficking. Words that one year ago I thought applied to the developing world, to Brazil, to Aruba, to countries far far away from where I sit in the United States. No. Human trafficking is very real and very close to home, all over the world and growing at a very sad rate in the U.S. Human trafficking is happening right now!

Polaris Project – The Mission 

Polaris Project is a leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Named after the North Star “Polaris” that guided slaves to freedom along the underground railroad.

Polaris Project is transforming the way that individuals and communities respond to human trafficking in the U.S., and globally by successfully pushing for stronger federal and state laws, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, conducting trainings, and providing vital services to victims of trafficking. Polaris Project creates long-term solutions that move our society closer to a world without slavery. Continue Reading…

10 Q’s With The Rain Trilogy Author Karen-Anne Stewart

Banner courtesy CTC Virtual Book Tours

Banner courtesy CTC Virtual Book Tours

I am honored to welcome author Karen-Anne Stewart to Plain Talk. The first time I heard about Saving Rain and Karen-Anne was from our mutual friend Jovon Tucker. I saw the trailer and I was immediately hooked on the Rain Trilogy. I am an advocate for women and children’s rights and this story appealed to me because the core theme incorporates human trafficking. Not only is it a love story, it has substance behind it and who doesn’t like substance?

Welcome Karen-Anne.

Please tell readers about the Rain Trilogy. What is it about?

Hi Gillian, thank you for having me on your site today.  The Rain Trilogy is a powerful story of abuse, human trafficking, and beautiful, redeeming love.

Raina is nineteen (almost twenty) at the beginning of Saving Rain.  She is intelligent, strong, sweet, innocent, and extremely guarded about her past.  Kas is very much the FBI alpha male hero, but he has a soft side, especially when it comes to Raina.  There is no ‘instalove’ in the story, but there is definitely an immediate chemistry between Kas and Raina.  Both try to ignore the attraction at first, due to Raina having a boyfriend, but emotions begin to develop and ignite after Kas saves Raina from a vicious attack when she ends the relationship with her boyfriend. Kas provides Raina shelter in his home while she heals from an attack that nearly killed her,  Raina fights to protect the wall she painstakingly built years prior to keep her heart safe, and Kas is hell-bent to break through that wall.  Both have the need to control their own worlds, so sparks fly at times, which only fuels the passion. Continue reading

Children of War

Edited by @GillianFx

Afganistan.
The real sufferers of war are women and children. This article deals with the children affected by war. Children are left orphaned if their parents are killed, maimed or taken, if they are “lucky” enough to survive they have to fend for themselves, leaving them susceptible to sexual and physical abuse, trafficking and poverty.

_65156814_afghan1Last winter, more than 100 children died in the cold weather in the numerous refugee camps that surround the Afghan capital. Over 10,000 displaced people flock to the Qambar refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul. The irony here is that the camp is located less than 20km (12 miles) from the presidential palace, the US embassy, NATO headquarters and the Offices of International Organizations overseeing billions of dollars in aid to the country.

Minister of Refugees and Repatriations Jamaher Anwari says the government is doing all it can to help.

Afghanistan has received $58bn (£36bn) in aid over the past 10 years, at least $3.5bn (£2.17bn) of which was in humanitarian aid. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Protection Officer Douglas DI Salvo told the BBC that the country continues to be challenged by conflict, poverty and lack of development.

Recently the people of Camp Qambar had to endure another tragedy, a four-year-old girl named Sabeah from Helmand province died as a result of the harsh winter.

She was the second child to die in the space of a week.

“We are relying on God and good luck to survive this winter,” said one refugee.

My opinion: Where is most of the money going? Shouldn’t most of the money go towards protecting the nation’s most valuable resources… the children? If this was a corporate business in the US or UK it would surely be investigated. To me it seems that the country is challenged as much by corruption as it is by conflict.

Pakistan.
Northern Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) is a hotbed of violence. Residents blame the Pakistan military and the Taliban in equal measure for reducing the education system to rubble. The Taliban’s intolerance of any kind of “modern” education, which they believe to be “anti-Islamic”, coupled with the destruction or occupation of scores of school buildings for military purposes, has robbed tens of thousands of children of their right to decent schooling. Their campaign has left 12,000 children idle, including more than 3,800 girls.

My opinion: Human trafficking is in the spotlight these days. Prevention starts with protecting the vulnerable.

Source: BBC News, Guardian UK