Today I’m welcoming Ryan Jo Summers and her book Shimmers of Stardust which has just released. I have to say that I love this book cover and can’t wait to read your book, Ryan Jo. I love time travel, and I’m anxious to see your Christian twist on the genre. So, welcome!
Please tell the readers about the book that is being showcased today. My book today is called Shimmers of Stardust. This is essentially a Christian romance, with a bit of time travelling mixed in. Sort of like cereal flakes with berries tossed in. Just the right amount.
This is the story of Logan Riley, Civil War hero turned renegade outlaw. Captured, he is hanged in 1869 by the law. Fast forward 140 odd years and anthropologist Dr. McKenzie Lynne is hired by a group of physicists to find some great treasure that will prove time travel is possible. She finds Logan, learns he is the great treasure they want and then discovers the true intent of their work. Horrified, she runs off, taking their great treasure with her.
This begins three things: 1–the great chase as they are pursued by the military through the desert of Arizona and New Mexico, trying to stay one step ahead of the hunters determined to catch them. 2—Kenzie’s Christian faith or morals slowly work through Logan’s hardened heart of crime, slowly convicting the bad boy far better then the hangman’s noose had. 3—Even though their lives hang in the balance between getting caught or staying free, mutual affection and love blooms between the two like the desert flowers. If only they had the luxury of time and the freedom to invest in it to watch it grow. But the military and physicists are determined to get their time travelling prize back and teach Kenzie a lesson not to take what’s not hers.
How did you come up with the concept for this book? Honestly, I don’t know. I have always been a fan of western novels and old western movies. So probably Logan Riley was born out of those rough and rugged but soft on the inside characters. Once upon a time in my youth I thought being an archeologist or something akin would be a fun career. (Changed my mind on that) But the initial interest never faded. And I am hooked on anything time travel related. Just love the concept of it. What if it were possible? So along in 2011 the thoughts all married into this story. I hate to say it, but it was a fairly easy book to write. Unlike other prior and after it. And when the story was almost finished, I was cleaning out some old papers and came across a scrap I had written a future story idea on. Almost word for word, it was the story concept for Shimmers of Stardust. Untitled, I had stuck it away and forgotten about it. The date I wrote the original story concept was 1997.
I guess a good idea never dies out, huh?
What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book? I am nearly finished with my first ever YA/NA novel. I shall turn it over to beta readers next and let it simmer before trying to find an agent once it gets polished. I hope by mid to late 2015 it will be agent ready. I am also about 2/3 done with a trilogy I have wanted to write for many years. It is a romance of three short stories in one volume, of three sisters who find love in a North Carolina coastal town. No immediate plans on what to do with it. I want to take my time with it, do the right thing by it and have it lead into a sequel. Lastly, I am just starting a new book that will probably be called women’s lit or something akin. It will have lots of layers, which I am having fun now plotting out, have lots of various surprises hiding within those layers and ultimately be a tear jerking love story.
I can see that you write in more than one genre? Can you tell us more? Yes, I seem to have found myself settled on romances, probably because I am a big softie at heart. But I toss it all in a blender. Romance is the base but on top of that I’ll throw in paranormal like time travel or shape shifting or mystic druidism. I’ll add Christian inspirational or suspense and murder in any combination. “Whispers in her Heart” (my first published book) was romance, supernatural and mystery all rolled into one. “When Clouds Gather” (the second novel coming out November with Soul Mate) is romance with mystery. For me, it’s sort of a tame cocktail. Why? I guess I get bored with a plain old love story, I need something extra—those layers—to add dimensions and interest. Same with stories I read. I also like the western flavor. I wrote a non-fiction inspirational novella I am currently pitching and like to dabble in short stories for fun and to wake up the brain. Plus the YA/NA which was a bit of unexpected writing but I enjoyed the challenges it presented.
I so understand the adding of layers. It makes a book so much richer.
Tell us about your writing space. My spare bedroom is my office. I live at my desk, which is situated in the corner by the window. I live in a rural setting so it’s pretty quiet. My office assistant, Taz, a blue and gold Macaw (very large parrot like pirates keep) either plays and sings directly behind me or walks along my desk, checking things out to make sure everything is in order. I also have five cats (yep, the crazy cat lady lives and breathes). They range in age from ten years down to just a few months old. They like to stretch out across the desk, across my papers and notes, fly over my shoulder in a single bound as they play Supercat! If all else fails, they just take turns harassing me for food and attention. Other then cats and bird, my desk is full of 3 ring binders which contain everything on each story I am working on, files, office supplies, coffee mug, a desk fan that is constantly blowing on me and dozens of quotes and mantras to keep me grounded. I have a few photos of my cats—lest I not see them for ten minutes and forget what they look like—a photo of a dog I had years ago and miss very much and a couple ceramic figurines that hold good memories. Behind my chair are several plants and a filing cabinet.
This is Pepper (far Left, who I lost earlier this year at age 18), Muldoone (Center) and Kryshnah Shea (far Right) Typical work day.
Sounds like you have an office full of help. LOL
Character names are important in writing. How do you choose your character names? I am always on the lookout for good names. I like unusual names, or ones that can be spelled different, or both. Meaning is important too. Sometimes I go by number of letters, or what they represent or just how they look on paper and sound out loud in character dialog. For Shimmers of Stardust, the main characters were all names of dogs I once had, collie siblings. I knew the hero was blue-eyed with dark hair. I had two brothers, one a blue merle collie named Logan and a tri color (black) named Riley James. So the only choice was to name the character Riley Logan or Logan Riley. As puppies, Logan seemed to be the first to try something and Riley James to follow soon thereafter. That choice was easy. Their sister was a lovely sable merle collie named McKenzie Lynne. Another littermate was Miles, who was Logan’s brother in the story. The other characters I tried to name as I went along, based on how they looked or acted. In another book I wrote, a Christian story called ‘Beside Still Waters’ there are dozens of characters and it was important to keep them straight by linking their names in an easy fashion. I had three college kids that were volunteers. I called them Jake, Mike and Zeke. All with 4 letters, all ending in ‘ke’ and all shortened forms of Biblical people.
I have to say that’s a method I’ve not used before. Clever.
How have your reading and writing tastes evolved over the years? Do you still read the same genre of books you did as a teenager? Actually, I do still read some of the same genre. I like Lynn Hall’s animal stories. I just read her book “Shadows” this year for the first time. I have books by S. E. Hinton that I read as a teenager and one that was written a few years ago not involving teens. I will read any story with a horse or dog on the cover. That has not changed. I have developed the interest in time travel, shape shifting and weird stuff like that since my teen years. I never read a love story until I was in my 20’s. Now I find myself also looking for books with renowned authors and reading them regardless of genre, just to see what makes them tick. I have very divers interest and will pick up almost anything just to see if it will hold my attention. It proves what power a blurb has. A nice cover, good title, and I’ll pick it up. Boring blurb and I’ll put it down. Interesting blurb and I’ll try it.
My daughter loved S.E Hinton as a teenagers, especially one of her books called The Outcasts, I think.
What’s the book you are reading now? I just started ‘Healing Sands’, a Sullivan Crisp novel by Nancy Rue and Stephen Artburn. It’s listed as a Christian fiction. I just finished a Thomas Kincaid novel. Next in my pile is a non-fiction book called ‘Too Scared to Cry’ which deals with trauma and how our bodies deal with it.
If you don’t write to music, what is in your CD player right now? I don’t normally listen to music when I write except on Sundays which is when the local radio station plays country classics for four hours each morning. I look forward to that. I like country music, the traditional sound. I like Irish/ Gaelic music. I like horns from jazz. I like nature sounds; water, storms, waves, bird calls, etc… I’ll listen to a lot of stuff but those are what I prefer. I don’t care for loud shouting, in my face kind of noise. I listen to music to do two things—hear and feel the instruments and be told a story. Songwriting is telling a story and it might be birds calling over the waves or it might be a love story to make you cry. Or anywhere in between. But I want to hear and feel it.
Ditto for me on the shouting-in-your-face music, but I do like Gaelic music.
Tell us a little bit about your hobbies outside of writing? Well, the aforementioned 5 cats and bird require a lot of my time outside of writing, as does my day job (which happens to be a second shift afternoon-to-evening job) So my little bit of free time beyond them is spent on plants. I have roughly 40 houseplants and someone is always in need of watering, trimming, transplanting or something. I like to paint on canvas, ceramics, and plain paper sometimes. I doodle with cartoons and write poetry as coping mechanisms to help me deal with life’s injustices and heartaches. I used to be crafty with needle crafts and floral arrangements but not so much nowadays. But I still have lots of reminders left in the house of things I have made through the years. I like to work word find puzzles before going to bed at night. I like to potter in the yard, tending seedlings or shrubs I have planted. I love the chance to get together with friends and usually go out to eat, but I also enjoy cooking and trying new recipes.
LOL. I have some of those UFO craft projects, too. Sounds like you have plenty to keep you busy.
Carousel horse I painted from an old WonderHorse child’s spring pony.
Now that’s pretty!
Let’s do some quickies.
Favorite food? Mashed potatoes and gravy. Soups and stews and chowders. Seafood.
Favorite singer or band? Don’t really have one. I listen to lots of music, but don’t go ga-ga over any one or two. I might think a particular male singer/s is cute or they are handsome, think he/they sing/s well, but that won’t elevate him/them to my favorite. It will mean I listen to hear his or their stuff on the radio.
Favorite season? Fall because the weather is cooler and the tree colors are lovely, followed by Winter because it might turn cold and snow but at least it’s cooler, followed by Spring because the flowers are popping out and the fireflies dance across the lawns. We could eliminate Summer and I’d be okay.
Favorite flower? Lilac. When I was growing up, we lived in a house that had towering old fashioned lilac bushes everywhere. I loved the blooms. The years spent at that location held some nice memories for me, and they are linked to the lilacs. Someday I dream of having lilacs and wisteria growing all about.
Favorite color? Blue. All shades of blue. Sky blue, dolphin blue-gray, pastel baby blue, I find comfort in blues. Followed by mint green. I am mad about that color. I prefer pastels over primary colors. As a painter (and I use that term loosely) I enjoy playing with colors. Again, with the mixing and blending shades and families into an acceptable finished product. Blue is always the first color of choice.
Mug or teacup? Mug, because it is heftier, holds more, requires fewer fill ups and not as likely to break upon washing. All my mugs feature different designs. Some have horses, wolves, lighthouses, seashore images, collies, or a couple have my name on them. You would never guess what things I am interested in?
It’s been a pleasure having you here today, Ryan Jo. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy? Oh so many things come to mind, it’s hard to narrow them down to just one. How about: Some change is good, some change is bad, but all change is inevitable. Another would be: When the sunshine of God’s love meets the shadows of our sorrows, the rainbow of promise appears. Both are my own profound discoveries.
Ryan Jo Summers has always been a reader, having a great interest in books. She wanted to be an author since age ten when she wrote her first story complete with illustrations. It has taken a long time to find and perfect her niche- contemporary romance with a twist. She still likes to write short stories, novellas and poems when inspired for the challenge and therapy they offer.
When not busy writing, Ryan Jo likes to spend time with her menagerie of pets, hang out with friends or lounge in nature’s majesty. She also likes to cook and bake, travel, tinker around with houseplants and yard plants. Her favorite hobby is another creative outlet; painting. She creates full-sized carousel horses from children’s spring rockers, paints ceramics and canvas and dabbles in cartoons.
Ryan Jo lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina where the scenic vistas provide constant inspiration and tranquility, keeping her creative batteries charged. Her biggest problem is finding enough time to give life to all the creative endeavors she wants to pursue.
‘Shimmers of Stardust’ is coming out from Soul Mate Publishing in September and plans are underway for Soul Mate Publishing to release another of Ryan Jo’s Novels in November 2014; a romantic suspense entitled ‘When Clouds Gather’. Readers and fans can connect with Ryan Jo at her website http://www.ryanjosummers.com/ or her blog at https://summersrye.wordpress.com/
Her social media links are: