Thank you for being with us today. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest book.
Thanks so much for having me at Heart of Romance today. My name is Michelle Picard and I write contemporary fantasy romance. My second book, Surviving Eden, recently released at Crescent Moon Press in both e and print formats. It is the sequel to Ruling Eden and part of my Eden’s Court series with the next installment still in the works. The series premise runs as follows: What if a modern woman suddenly learns she is heir to the throne of a magical realm hidden in our world and is the most powerful magical being on the planet? These stories are full of fantasy and paranormal favorites: vampires, shapeshifters, faeries, angels, demons, witches, dragons, scary goddesses, sentient plant life, and more. The world of Eden’s Court is rich and a nice blend of traditional fantasy and contemporary feel.
Who, or what has influenced your writing the most?
Strangely, I think my childhood made me the writer I am today. I was fairly isolated as a kid and spent a lot of time in my head. I read lots of books, fantasy in particular. The appreciation for investing in imagination was born then. For examining things from many angles. And for providing my characters with grand adventures and grand love which wasn't available to the real little girl. That was the start of my dream to write and affects the outcomes today most profoundly.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
A hybrid of the two. I plot a very rough outline that must have a distinct ending, list a sentence or two about chapters that need to happen, and then begin to write from the beginning, changing and adding as I go. The changes are inevitable and the story always develops new twists and turns and scenes as I go. If I need to adjust the end, it makes perfect sense by the time I get there. However, if I didn’t have a vision of the outcome as a starting point I would never be able to write.
Which, if any, authors, past and present, have influenced your writing, and how?
In the far past—Jean Auel, Jennifer Roberson, Peter S. Beagle. Most recently it’s been an eclectic group including Anne Bishop, Charlaine Harris, Kim Harrison, Jacqueline Carey, and so many others I cannot name. These are my favorites and I take very different lessons from each.
Do you have critique partners or work alone?
I have critique partners thank goodness. We call ourselves the Quirky Ladies and even blog together at www.thequirkyladies.com. We are romance writers across a variety of genres and live close enough to one another to go out for frequent sushi dinners and flavored martinis. Of course we’re always focused on the serious business of critiquing (like you believe that one), but slip in time for friendship and laughter. I am blessed to have these ladies in my life.
I love the name of your group :-)
Do you think reviews are important?
Yes. Although there are always folks who won’t like your books, it’s important to know that people are out there reading them, no matter their thoughts. And readers do visit review sites. At times you can pick up a helpful piece of criticism from a review and other times you get to enjoy flying high on praise. The great reviews are the best because you have those little kid moments jumping up and down again and again squealing because somebody liked what you wrote.
How do you respond to a reviewer if it’s not favorable?
I thank them for taking the time to read the book and leave it at that. There is no benefit to defending yourself. People like what they like. I didn’t write it for that one reviewer. I wrote it for myself and the others out there I know it touched positively.
What is your favourite colour and why?
I’m going to pick two. Brown and red. Colors of the earth. Of course they’re also the best colors for my skin tone, but I love all things rich. Life feels rich to me, full of complexity and simplicity both. These colors make me feel that contradiction. Sounds weird, huh? Maybe.
What is the nicest reader comment you've ever received?
That my story made her critical reading skills go out the window while she found herself so caught up in the story she read straight through. These comments are enough to make you drunk.
How do you promote your work?
I keep it simple. My website, a blogsite, a group blogsite, facebook and twitter. I do bring bookmarks and promo to conferences and occasionally plan a blog tour or guest blog like this one. It’s not natural to me, but I keep trying. My supervisor at my day job keeps saying I need to contact Oprah. I laugh and roll my eyes and tell her I need to hire her as my PR person so she can get to work on that project.
Do you set yourself daily writing goals?
No. The closest I come is to try to write something each day. Even if it’s a sentence. It gives me lots of permission to set my own pace reflecting the complicated reality of my life.
If you could buy any car of your choice, what would it be?
A hybrid. And not something big. I’m a suburban mom, but we’ve resisted anything bigger than a sedan because we’re trying to be environmentally conscious. I kind of liked it during the worst of the gas price hikes.
If you had to describe your current book as a piece of music, how would you describe it?
An angsty modern song with a pace that keeps popping and some foreign undertones.
What books of yours are currently for sale and where can a reader buy them?
Ruling Eden and Surviving Eden are both available in e and print format at my publishers site, http://www.crescentmoonpress.com/ as well as Amazon and Barnes& Noble.
Please, will you include a blurb and excerpt to share, and give us links to where we can find Surviving Eden?
Blurb for Surviving Eden:
Rachel Rieh wields enough magic to make a goddess jealous, or so she learned three weeks ago when she thought she was an ordinary, reclusive, and short-tempered gal from Boston. In this second story of Eden’s Court, Rachel, now the new ruler of the Kesayim, (angels, demons, dragons, faeries, vampires, shapeshifters and witches–the goddess-created protectors of mortalkind) finds herself faced with the task of stopping vampire hunters from annihilating the vampire race. Her lover, Gabriel, half-angel, half-demon, stands by her side to help if she can escape her obsession with protecting him at all cost.
Earth is already on the verge of destruction within six months because magic is out of balance. The new threat to the vampires destabilizes the situation more. In her race to save the vampires, Rachel meets Lilith, goddess, creator of all Kesayim and humans, and the one with all the answers to Rachel’s problems. But is the cold-hearted goddess intent on changing Rachel into her image the greater threat to Rachel and everyone she loves?
Walking through the lush beauty of the Garden of Eden was meant to be inspiring, stimulating, a damned orgiastic delight for the eyes. This morning it was only annoying. Mostly because I was late for my first official diplomatic visit to the vampire realm, and fuming because the path through the garden refused to cooperate and lead us to the appropriate portal.
But the garden, its exotic sentience plucking at my mind, riffling through my thoughts and twittering its opinions--always a spine-tingling sensation--preferred to shift its dimensions and keep the elusive portal far from me and my companion. I would have questioned its motive, but I doubted it practiced anything but an amusing propensity for stirring trouble.
The Eden I strode through wasn’t anywhere on twenty-first century mortal maps of earth; more like a parallel realm snapped out of normal space, disconnected long ago by the goddess who created us all. Same as the home realms of all of the seven Kesayim peoples. Unfortunately, the garden had never recovered from its upset over the separation and tended to become testy at the oddest times. Oh yeah, PMS had nothing on this paradise when it got in a snit.
And now I had to negotiate its moody walkways and get to my destination or else. Without all the Kesayim races stable, including the vampires, I had no chance of uniting them to prevent the literal destruction of our world.
I walked faster.
What’s a little deterioration of the balance of magic on the planet, Rachel? End game, that’s what. So get your butt in gear and figure out what to do about the vampires. Christian’s counting on you. Or do you want to see him murdered too?
My heart rate skyrocketed with the last thought. I so didn’t have time for the garden right now.
On top of the furious pace I set as I stormed down the dirt-covered pathways winding through forest and meadow, I had Tarn, my fae guardsman, still harping at me about my limited escort. His long legs and graceful stride were more than a match for my own. His waist-length white-gold hair, braided down his back, trailed him as he followed me and left no visual impediment to his hard, toned body. Tarn was of the fae’s warrior caste, and he wore his position with every powerful movement, a counterpoint to the more delicate beauty of his face with its milky complexion and deep blue eyes.
As a rule I loved the irreverent fool, but he damned near pushed his limit today with his uncharacteristic doomsday warning that started from first light, when I’d stepped outside my suite in Eden’s Court. His usual caramel tones had flowed to burnt sugar instead. “My lady, if you will not contact Gabriel and ask him to join us for your own safety as we visit the vampires, at least do so for my welfare,” he repeated yet again. “He will tear me up into countless number of little pieces when he discovers only one guard accompanied you.”
I glared at the fae, his scrollwork-covered sword already drawn with his concern, before continuing down the path. I snarled, “Tarn, if you don’t shut up about Gabriel, I’ll be the one tearing you into countless pieces.”
The morning was not shaping up as I’d hoped and the reminder that my lover no longer held his position by my side as constant companion and protector did nothing to improve my mood. I was irritated with Gabriel anyway. I couldn’t figure out the why of it, I just was. “If you don’t remember, Gabriel’s no longer part of the guard and has no say whatsoever about my choice of escort. Anyway, he’s stuck in another bamboo up the fingernails, walking over hot coals negotiation between the angels and the demons today. He does not need any distractions.” No matter how much I want him here, too, I carefully kept to myself.
We dodged a grouping of new bushes popping up in the middle of our path and diverted down a new lane to our side. The garden cackled.
“But my lady...Rachel, if we just--”
I rounded on him, stopping in place with a sudden movement born of anxiety-edged irritation, causing him to skid to a halt to avoid ramming into me. “You know, this shit really gets to me. I’m supposed to be the Mother Heir, the exalted leader of the seven magical races of the Kesayim, all their powers rolled into one complete package. I’m the ruler of Eden’s Court and half the time I’m read the riot act by my own guard, my court seneschal, and the council of representatives, all of whom are supposed to answer to me. Me, remember? The crazy woman in charge of this nuthouse. I say who goes with me to visit the vampires.”
Buy links: http://crescentmoonpress.com/books/SurvivingEden.html
Amazon print: http://amzn.to/beTp3D
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/9aoHl4
Barnes& Noble paperback: http://bit.ly/8Z1nHC
Please share your website and other links with us.
On facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Michelle-Picard/100000107670126
On twitter: http://twitter.com/RulingEden
Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org