Interview & 1st Giveaway!!!

Hello Bookworms! Today I have an interview with Heidi Loney. Author of Love and Cola Wars. Make sure to keep reading for your chance to win a copy of Love and Cola Wars as well as a tote bag!

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In a parallel world, the city of Toronto has privatized all aspects of public life, including schools, where the ultimate rivalry is between the two biggest cola corporations in the world.

Sixteen year old Coco Caro is a good girl from a good Coca Cola home. Just as summer is closing, she meets Vincente Moreno, an up-and-coming Olympic fencer who attends her rival high school, Pepsi Co. At first, Coco has no idea who Vincente is or where he comes from. But when she discovers his identity, Coco must choose her loyalties: avoid Vincente at all costs or see him in secret.

Enter into the picture Cody Warwick, handsome Microsoft college junior and fencing aficionado. Cody has the world eating out of his hands, but Coco knows there is more to him than meets the eye. When her father wants her to entertain Cody at his annual Coke barbeque, Coco must play the dutiful daughter against her better judgment. And when a group of student activists challenge the status-quo at Coke High, Coco questions her own core values.

Meanwhile, Vincente has troubles of his own. Coco’s cousin, fencing star Silvino Rodrigues, challenges Vincente to a fencing bout, for which Vincente forgoes because of his personal set of principles. Eventually, Vincente must use his training skills and daring to defend Coco’s honour in an ultimate fencing blow-out.

Filled with swoon-worthy romance and kick-ass sword fighting, LOVE AND COLA WARS is a satirical love story set in a parallel world of cola and corporation.

Thanks so much for granting us an interview! Let’s jump right into it.

1. How did you come up with the title?

My husband is the one who came up with the title. It’s very succinct, I think, since it is about love and it is about the cola wars.

2. How much of the book is realistic?

Some of the book is realistic, in terms of the location and the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.  Other than that, it’s pretty much made up.  But I think that’s what makes it fun.

3. If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change about the book?

I don’t think so.  The book has evolved quite a bit since the first draft and I think it’s at the point that I’m happy with what it is.

4. How did the idea for the cover come about?

The cover was a stock cover that I found by a cover artist I had already worked with.  I knew essentially what the characters looked like and that couple fit the bill quite nicely.  The artist added in the Toronto skyline.

5. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

The biggest challenge was the Olympic fencing, since I have never fenced a day in my life.  But I have to say that I loved that part of the book. It’s such a cool sport and not given the credit it truly deserves. And to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it portrayed in a Young Adult book or movie.

6. What inspired you to write your book?

It’s really a comment about my home town, but I think it’s also a universal truth that there is less money now than when I was growing up, so that it is getting to the time that corporations have to sponsor sporting, the arts and even our basic needs.

7. Were there any qualities that you shared with the main character?

I don’t think I share any qualities with the main character.  She’s quite shallow in some respects and not truly aware of what is going around her, but that’s not to say that she doesn’t grow and change.  Also, my parents were never domineering like that, but I had a friend growing up who was expected to follow the status-quo. Luckily, my parents were very supportive of my choices.

8. What advice do you have for other writers?

Just write.  I often hear people say that they would love to be a writer, but they never actually write.  It can be anything – a journal, a blog, or creative short stories.  And read too.

9. What book do you wish you had written?

I’m a big Jane Austin fan, so probably anything by her.  Persuasion is my favourite.  It was one of her later books and shows her at her very best.

10. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I read all of my reviews, good and bad, but I don’t respond to them unless the reviewer has sent me a link and then I thank them.  I’ve said this before – you just have to take it with a grain of salt. I come from theatre, where reviews can be down-right nasty with personal attacks.

With book reviews, not everyone will like everything you write and you just have to try not to take it personally.  Even Suzanne Collins has a bunch of one star reviews.

11. What literary character is most like you?

When I was a kid, I was definitely like Anne of Green Gables or Laura Ingalls – too precocious and chatty and always getting into scrapes. As I get older, I think I am most like Miranda from Sex in the City.  A little bit cynical, but a true friend and in the end, a real family person.

12. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I think I liked the parts with Carmella, the Pepsi floozy that dumped Vince. I went to school with girls like that.

13. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I think the hardest one was when someone thought one of my books sent a bad message to young people about body image, when I was actually stating the opposite. I felt that I had failed that reader, but there is nothing I could do about that at the time.  All I can do is try and develop my craft and build on what I’ve learned.

The best compliment was that my first book (Ravenous) was very original.  It’s a dystopian story, and I didn’t want it to be like the Hunger Games or Insurgence type story. I wanted it to be unique. 

14. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure! I live in Toronto (the setting for Love and Cola Wars) with my two boys and my husband Jack. I went to school for costume design and before becoming a writer, I worked in the theatre for fifteen years. That’s where I get my wacky imagination from!

15. Snow cones or popsicles?
I’ve never had a snow cone, so I’d have to say popsicles.

16. Where can we find more about you and your book?

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7025083.Heidi_Loney

http://www.heidiloney.com

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out this and other books by the author. Now we have a giveaway for you. It’s open to those in the U.S. and Canada only. All you have to do to enter is drop your email in the comment section and a lucky random person will be the winner.

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Sufficient Ransom: Review and Author Interview

What a mother wouldn’t do for her child. Ann Olson takes her life for granted until her young son, Travis, disappears from the backyard one evening. Searching for her son, Ann throws caution to the wind. Soon, she finds herself enmeshed in the seedy world of Mexican drug dealers who operate just across the border in Tijuana. Does Ann, an atheist, embrace Christianity despite her husband warning that her pastor friend is more interested in converting her than in finding Travis? Does she make it out of the drug tunnel alive, or is her rashness her downfall? And is Travis’s disappearance related to that of other recently missing children in San Diego? A story of a mother’s love, courage in the face of evil, and her unexpected journey of self-discovery along the way.

Sufficient ransom is amazing debut novel by new author Sylvia Sarno. Her story takes you on a journey from San Diego to Tijuana as main character Ann tries desperately to find her kidnapped son. The characters were very well thought out and developed and each person plays a significant role in the story. You won’t know who the good guys and bad guys are until the very end. As the main character Ann was quite annoying at times. She kept jumping to conclusions and being impulsive which lead to her ending up in life threatening situations on multiple occasions. However, as the story progresses she learns a lot about herself and her worth as mother. She leaned to trust herself and grows significantly by the end of the book. The author also injected an internal struggle of faith within Ann. She is torn between sticking to being an atheist or exploring the comfort christianity offers her. Religion and drug trafficking are intricately and brilliantly woven together and build into an amazing and mind blowing ending! This is an amazing suspense novel that will not disappoint and you will not want to put down. The author has been kind enough to grant me an interview and provide some more insight about the book.

 

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1. How did you come up with the title?

Since the story is about a kidnapping, the word “ransom” seemed like a natural choice to include in the title. When a friend suggested I look to Shakespeare for inspiration, I came up with the expression “sufficient ransom” from Two Gentlemen of Verona. In Shakespeare’s context, the term refers to an offer of sorrow for a misdeed. This meaning fit well with Ann’s guilt feelings as a mother. When I discovered that “sufficient ransom” is also a term from the bible, I knew I had a winner. “Sufficient ransom” addressed all the main points of the book: the kidnapping, a mother’s guilt, and the religious theme. And it was only two words, giving me a nice short title.

2. How much of the book is realistic?

Unfortunately, events similar to those in Sufficient Ransom have happened. But I can’t go into detail without giving too much away. A veteran crime investigator I consulted when I was doing research told me that if his child were kidnapped he would have taken matters into his own hands the way Ann did; and he would have gone to Mexico if necessary. Regarding the drug smuggling tunnel that Ann discovers on the border, more than one hundred tunnels have been discovered in recent years both on the San Diego side and the Tijuana side.

3. If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change about the book?

I’m happy with the final product. What I would have changed, which would have saved me a lot of time, is the approach I took to writing it.

4. How did the idea for the cover come about?

The book cover was definitely a collaborative effort. I had read a lot about what makes for a good book cover, but didn’t know what would make my cover good. My website designer, Susan Gilbert, referred me to Alexander von Ness of Nessgraphica. In looking at samples of his work, I knew right away I wanted him to do my cover. With each variant of the cover that Alexander designed for me (he did about 12 different ones) I learned more about what would work for my story. My book club friends—a group of very literary women—were invaluable in this. For most of the mock-ups Alexander did, they told me what they liked and didn’t like. Hearing their astute feedback, I finally honed in on the idea that I wanted a child on the cover with a partially hidden face.

5. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

The biggest challenge I faced in writing Sufficient Ransom, was that I really didn’t know what I was doing when I started it. But I didn’t know that I didn’t know. In the beginning, I did all the textbook things a writer should do. I researched the world of the story. I wrote journals for each of the characters in their own voices. And I outlined the story in great detail. After I wrote the first draft, I hired a professional novelist, who does editing on the side, to critique the first 100 pages. Her conclusion: I should scrap the story and start over. I agreed with her reasons and took her advice. Keeping the kernel of the idea, I rewrote the entire book. Next, I hired an experienced editor. Her encouragement and interest in the story inspired me to revise the story even more. The more I revised, the more I learned about the craft of writing. After a few more major edits, I felt I was finally on the right track.

6. What inspired you to write your book?

When I was a child living in Italy, there was much talk about kidnapping. A high-profile kidnapping in Rome in 1973 had set the whole country on edge. Years later, those fearful feelings came back to me and gave me the idea for Sufficient Ransom. Something my husband once mentioned about what he’d just read, gave me the specific angle for the story.

7. Were there any qualities that you shared with the main character?

I have to admit, I’m a little compulsive. But not as bad as Ann! Also, my husband tells me I jump to conclusions more than I should. Like Ann I also love classical-style art.

8. What advice do you have for other writers?

Learn about the craft of writing before and during the process of working on your book. Take classes. Ask your teachers to critique your work. Never take criticism of your work personally; rather, use it to improve your writing.

 
9. What book do you wish you had written?

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I love that book!

10. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I do read them. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and has made all the work worthwhile. I responded to only two reviews. In the first case, the reader posted that pages were missing from her ebook. I offered to send her an ebook in place of that. She took me up on the offer, read the book, and posted a wonderful review. In the second case, I responded to a reader who was upset about certain parts of the book. I responded that I was sorry she was upset, explaining that I wrote it that way to get people thinking. I respect what readers have to say—good or bad. And I don’t take any of it personally. Going forward, I will take my husband’s advice and not respond to negative reviews.

 
11. What literary character is most like you?

I had no idea how to answer this question, so I took a quiz on Abebooks.com to see which literary character I am most like. The answer was Galadriel of Lord of the Rings, the one played by Cate Blanchett in the movies.

12. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I especially loved writing the final chapters. First because I was glad to be coming to the end. Second, because they were especially emotional.

13. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Toughest criticism: My main character is “somewhat of an idiot.” Admittedly, Ann doesn’t always show the best judgment, but she is willing to try anything if it means finding her son.

The best compliment: “I couldn’t put your book down.” I’ve heard this a lot. Yea!

 
14. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I live a middle class life in Southern California. I’m a mom and a wife. My family is awesome. They’re fun, funny, and interesting. Education and a love of learning are important to me. I encourage my kids to work hard in school so that they will have as many doors open to them as possible when they get older. Before we had kids, my husband and I traveled and ate out a lot. Our focus now is on our family. It’s a good, busy life.

15. Fruit loops or Frosted Flakes?

I’d have to say Fruit Loops. I like all the colors and the pink-blue milk.

16. Where can we find more about you and your book?

http://www.sylviasarno.com

http://www.sylviasarno.com/20-things-you-didnt-know-about-me/

https://www.facebook.com/SylviaSarnoFiction

https://twitter.com/SylviaSarno

Sufficient ransom can be found at amazon.com.