Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Music: Interview with great synthpop band The Magickal

One of the coolest things in interviewing Indie artists is to find and discover great music. The Magickal is an awesome group, and I really enjoyed listening to their songs! I invite you to find more about them in this interview, and don't forget to check out their tunes!
First, please introduce yourselves and let us know a bit about each of you and your background.

Based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, The Magickal took years in the making. Dorian and Kami have known each other since middle school. We were two thirds of a synth pop band during their high school years. After some time apart pursuing other musical avenues, they have teamed up again.  Dorian is a self taught musician, who started writing songs on his parents' piano as a teenager. Kami has been singing her whole life. She started by singing country songs with her dad. She also sang a solo in church at age 5, and sang to just about everything she heard on the radio. 
What a great team! So when did you start the band, and what's the story behind the band's name?

This band was started in 2015, after years apart doing other projects. Dorian and Kami always remained friends, but we decided it was time to finally finish something together! So this EP is very much a full circle accomplishment for us. We wanted something simple yet epic for the band name... We were thinking along the lines of Muse. We, of course, tried a few other things before The Magickal, which were all taken already. When I Googled The Magickal, I sat there staring at the screen forever thinking "Can this be right?!!"... and YES! We do believe in magick. 
That's really magical! And who writes the lyrics and composes the songs?

We work together on arrangement, but Dorian does all the synth programming, while Kami writes the lyrics and melody. 
I love the vocals, Kami, you have a great voice! What genre do you consider yourselves and what's your greatest influence?

We consider ourselves a Synthpop band. Although it's electronically based.... we do not make dance music. We make pop songs. We're actually inspired by every genre of music out there, but of course, especially the New Wave music of the 80's and early 90's. Depeche Mode, Erasure, Eurythmics, Yaz, New Order, The Cure....
That's my kind of music and I love all these bands! A fantastic influence, I might say. When was the first time you performed live and how did you feel?

The first time we performed live together was in high school, at a homecoming assembly. I remember waiting behind the curtain as they announced us. Since, at the time, there were very few bands in our school, it seemed everyone knew who we were! The applause when they announced us was enormous. We were both exhilarated, and terrified. We were overwhelmed... it was our first performance ever, and we already had some huge expectations on us. 
What a great moment it must have been! Is there a specific performance you feel was your best so far? If so, where and why?

Thus far, The Magickal is only a studio band. We do plan on starting live shows as soon as we have enough material ready.
I hope you do and start touring soon! What do you enjoy the most between your interaction with the fans?

So, our interactions with fans have been mostly on line so far. We've had some really amazing feedback from all over the world. Including a girl in Italy, who says our songs have really helped her through some things. That, for me, is the greatest news we could receive. Not only did she "like" our band, but it truly affected her life in a positive way. I don't think we could wish for anything more than that.

That's remarkable. As an artist, that's all you hope for, to influence someone's life in a positive way! So what are your plans for this year?

Our plans are to work on more music this year. We have a few more that are already written, that just need to be recorded and produced. The goal is to release a full album, and start playing live.
This is exciting and I can't wait for a full album from what I have already sampled. Where can we find and buy your music?

Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

We'd like to just let everyone out there who has supported us in any way.... THANK YOU! 

Thank you so much for your time and we wish you great success with your music! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Books: New Cover Reveal, Sale and Giveaway of Romance Author Sheila Kell's books!

Will the choice he makes mean certain death to the woman he promised to protect?
Standalones HIS Desire & HIS Choice
HIS Desire

When FBI Special Agent Kate Ross is injured in a drive-by shooting, Hamilton Investigation and Security, Inc. (H.I.S.) leader Jesse Hamilton, believing she is the target of a killer seeking revenge against him, pulls the full force of H.I.S. into action to protect her.

Kate doesn’t believe Jesse, the only man to make her seethe one minute and lust after him the next, when he approaches her with a note from the Facilitator stating someone he loved would die shortly, and he knows in his gut it’s Kate. After a second attempt on her life, she can no longer fight his protection or her attraction to him.

After making a mistake that cost his wife her life, Jesse vowed to never love again, but Kate stirs something in him that puts his protective instincts into overdrive. Keeping her alive and out of his heart is more difficult than he expected. Then he makes a decision that could cost Kate her life. Is history due to repeat itself?
“This book is filled with plenty of twists, off the charts chemistry and will leave you on the edge of your seat while reading it.” ~ Escape Reality with Books
Amazon: International I US I UK I AU I CA
HIS Choice

AJ Hamilton never expected his life to spiral so low. Tangled up with Baltimore's largest crime boss, The Magician, he is ordered to threaten a bothersome reporter. His attraction to Megan Rogers was as unexpected as was their heated encounter. AJ tries to warn her off. When she doesn't heed his advice, he's forced to protect her from herself. After witnessing something that puts their lives in danger, he kidnaps her.

When AJ saves Megan from the clutches of certain death, they must go on the run to stay alive. Tensions are high and their passions flare as they fight to stay one step ahead of The Magician. As they put their plan to expose him into action, AJ is forced to make a choice. But no matter the option he chooses, he may not be able to protect her or their hearts.

"Sheila Kell has created a stand alone entry that will have readers wanting more!" ~ InD’tale Magazine
Amazon: International I US I UK I AU I CA

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Music: Interview with DJ extraordinaire and AIDS Activist Derek Canas

Today, we bring to the blog Derek Canas, with an inspiring story that highlights the resilient human spirit of survival, and of making your dreams come true regardless of the adversities. Derek is a DJ who goes by the name of DJ D-REK, and he's also an AIDS activist. He has a powerful message he wants to share with us: "always chase your dreams. I thought I was dead 15 years ago, and I still went after and got my dream job." Let's meet the extraordinaire Derek Canas.

Derek, tell us a little bit about you and your background.

I'm battery operated, I've had pacemakers since I was 3 months old. I was diagnosed with Aids at 16 after getting bad blood from a blood transfusion at 3 months of age during heart surgery. I've been through hell and DJing is my escape for a few hours on the weekend.

Not an easy start for you... But you found a way to channel your talent and rise against adversity and that's wonderful. When did you decide to become a DJ and why?

When I was 16 I discovered I had been given a bad blood transfusion. I got the bad blood during heart surgery at 3 months of age and was then being diagnosed with Aids. I isolated myself and my escape from doctors and meds became music. When I was old enough to go out, I met some local DJ'S who were playing CDs I had recorded for friends. This was when CD burners had just become popular. The local guys then took me under their wing, and showed me how to DJ.

That's great, music does make a difference in someone's life. When and where was your first gig as a DJ and how did you feel?

My first DJ gig was unexpected. I was working with another DJ learning everything, and one night he was unavailable, so the owner asked me to fill in for him. I had my own equipment at this point, but had never done it solo. I was so nervous, but those nerves soon went away as the dance floor became packed.

Sounds great! I'm glad it all worked out. What do you like best about your interaction with the fans?

I love the energy they give back to me. I've always said I truly come alive at work. I wish my fans knew how much those few hours I'm at work and their love and support mean to me.

It's so rewarding when you get a job where you feel you're not working but having fun and enjoying it! And what genre of music do you prefer to play? What is your favorite song/artist?

I love EDM just for the energy it creates. My favorite song is Bill Withers: "Ain't No Sunshine"; it's a goodie after a crazy night song. 

Fabulous! Now I have that song on my mind! And which artist or musician has influenced you the most?

Justin Drake has influenced me the most; he taught me how to be an Emulator DJ. I love using the Emulator on gigs, because it takes DJING to a new visual level.

That must be so much fun. I need to visit your club one of this days! What are your plans for this year? What are you working on currently?

To keep working on the charity campaign and then turn into the DJ on the weekends. I'm currently preparing for a very busy summer. I work in a tourist area beach town that get's crazy during spring break and summer. 

I'm sure you'll be busy! Tell me your favorite quote - or any of your favorite quotes - who said it and why you like it.

Garth Brooks - The Dance: " I could have missed the pain but I'd have to miss the dance". I wouldn't miss this for the world!

Derek, thank you so much for sharing a little bit of your life and work with us. We want to wish you good luck and much success in your career and your cause. Where can we find out more about you and your charity cause?

To help Derek's "End the Stigma"campaign, visit his Facebook page and follow him on twitter. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Lifestyle: Houston Writers Guild Writing Conference April 2016

The Houston Writers Guild Annual Conference for writers will take place on the weekend of April 29, 30 and May 1, 2016 at the Marriott Houston Westchase Hotel on 2900 Briarpark Drive in Houston, TX.

The information below can be found on the website as well as links for registration.

We are proud to announce the date and location of the 2016 Houston Writers Guild Annual Conference. This year the Guild hopes to bring the types of information, workshops, and discussions you are looking for to forward your writing careers. The conference will feature Pre-Workshop Guest Speaker Jay Asher, Main Event Key Note Speaker Jamie Ford and Post-Workshop Pamela Fagan Hutchins. The Main Event on April 30 will begin with a Key Note Speaker followed by twelve one hour Break-out Sessions. In addition there will be an opportunity for writers to pitch in 10-minute sessions with agents and editors.

Special Guest Speaker JAMIE FORD – New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet—Jamie Ford has written two best selling books. Ford is best known for his New York Times bestselling debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The book received positive reviews after its release, and was also awarded best “Adult Fiction” book at the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature. The book was also named the #1 Book Club Pick for Fall 2009/Winter 2010 by the American Booksellers Association.

Special Guest Speaker JAY ASHER – Jay Asher’s debut YA novel, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, has spent over 3.5 years on the New York Times bestsellers list and is currently in production to be a 13-part series on Netflix. His second YA novel, THE FUTURE OF US, was co-authored with Carolyn Mackler. His novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and his third novel will be released in the fall of 2016.


Saturday April 30, 2016

amyboggsdor (1)

AMY BOGGS is an agent and professional sci-fi/fantasy geek at the Donald Maas Literary Agency in New York City. She has been with the agency since 2009, having previously worked at a psychiatry magazine, a college library and a children’s bookstore. She represents all things weird and wonderful in science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction, whether it’s adult, YA or middle-grade. She seeks and supports authors who are marginalized, and wants work that reflects our world’s wide range of humanity in any and all respects, such as (but not limited to) gender, race, ethnicity, disability, and sexuality.

MICHELLE RICHTER is an Associate Agent at Fuse Literary, which she joined after eight years at St. Martin’s Press. While there she edited Melissa Joan Hart’s memoir, Melissa Explains It All, among others, and worked on a variety of fiction and nonfiction. She has a Master’s of Science in Publishing from Pace University, where she is an adjunct faculty member.Michelle is primarily seeking fiction, especially commercial women’s, literary, magical realism, suspense, thrillers, and mysteries (particularly amateur sleuth, traditional, and police procedurals). She’s very eager to find book club reads, and women’s fiction that represents cultures who haven’t been heard from enough (like South Asian and Native American), stories of friendship, siblings, and family secrets. She loves unreliable narrators. In nonfiction, she’s seeking pop culture, fashion, film, television, science, medicine, sociology/social trends, and economics. Stories set in Boston, Ireland, Russia, and India hold particular interest for her.

PETER KNAPP is an agent at New Leaf Literary & Media, where he represents fiction for all ages. Previously, he was an agent at The Park Literary Group. He began his career as a story editor at Floren Shieh Productions, consulting on book-to-film adaptations for Los Angeles-based movie and TV entities. His clients include Melanie Conklin (COUNTING THYME, Putnam/Penguin), Soman Chainani (author of the New York Times bestselling THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL series), Lucy Keating (DREAMOLOGY, HarperTeen), Brenda Drake (THIEF OF LIES, Entangled Teen), Anna Michels (26 KISSES, Simon Pulse) and Will Walton (ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN, Scholastic). He graduated from NYU summa cum laude and lives in Brooklyn.
Mr. Knapp is looking for adult projects (character and voice driven across most fiction genres, particularly thrillers, suspense and light science fiction).  He will also take pitches across YA and MG.

Manuscript Consults

Kimberly Morris

Kimberly Morris is the author of more than 50 books for children and young adults, many of them for popular series including Disney Fairies Mary-Kate & Ashley, AnimorphsSweet ValleyFreshman DormGeneration Girl, and Real Kids Readers. She has also written read-aloud stories for the MuppetsMuppet Babies, and Fraggle Rock, and television scripts for the animated classic, ThunderCats. Among her publishers and producers are Bantam, HarperCollins, Dorling Kindersley, MacMillan U.K., Millbrook Press, Golden Books, Scholastic, Jim Henson Associates, Lorimar-Telepictures, and Rankin/Bass Productions.
Check their website for more information and to register. You don't have to be a member to attend. This is a great opportunity for writers and those who want to further their writing skills.