Saturday, April 6, 2013

Blog Tour: Pooka in My Pantry by R.L. Naquin (tourwide giveaway)

This virtual book tour is presented by Bewitching Book Tours.
Click HERE for more tour information.
Welcome to The Wormhole and my day on the tour.
It is my pleasure to feature:
R.L. Naquin and Pooka in My Pantry.

R.L. has stopped by for an interview:
  • How many jobs did you have before you became a writer?

Wow. A lot. I’ve been a security dispatcher, a customer service rep, front desk clerk
at a Disney resort, office manager, personal assistant, business owner. I’m in my
mid-forties and I’ve lived a lot of places. I’d say I’ve had a good twenty to thirty
different jobs in my lifetime.

  • How long does it take you to write a book?

Two or three months to write it. But in the months leading up to the actual writing,
I’m thinking through the plot. Then the month or two after, I’m editing it before
sending it to my publisher. So, four to six months. That still doesn’t account for all
the work that goes into making it better after the fact.

  • What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

My extreme prep-work before I start writing seems to amuse my friends. It’s an
elaborate dance of index cards, magnets, a gigantic wipe-off board, multiple colors
of wipe-off pens, and a lot of pacing, talking out loud, and wild gesturing in front
of the giant board. Most people who achieve this level of crazy get the benefit of
medication. I can’t even remember to take my vitamins every day.

  • Do you have a routine that you use to get into the right frame of mind to write?

I always like to know where I’m going with the next few scenes before I sit down to
write. If I sit down without a plan, I’ll stare at the screen and do nothing. I don’t have
to know everything. I just need to have an idea of where I’m going.

  • Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your characters?

Websites like Phantoms and Monsters are good for coming up with types of
monsters. Still, real-life people are often the basis for the personalities in my books.
Pointy ears, wings, or glowing eyes are only physical traits. The odder a character
looks, the more likely I am to give him very human qualities and problems to make
him more believable.

  • How do you decide what you want to write about?

I love urban fantasy, but I wanted to read a book about a character who wasn’t
broken or snarky or afraid of relationships. That’s how I decided to write this series.

  • What books have most influenced your life?

Black and Blue Magic by Zylph Keatley Snyder
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip
The Tripods Series by John Christopher

  • What is the first book you remember reading by yourself?

Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum

  • What are you reading right now?

A friend’s manuscript. It’s wonderful. I hope I’ll be able to tell you about it

  • What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Road trips, movie marathons, Lego building, and anything to do with Disney.

  • What is your favorite comfort food?

Popcorn in a dark theater.

  • What do you think makes a good story?

I think the entire point to a story is to take the reader out of her own life for a little
while. A good story should make you forget who you are and let you be someone
else, even if it’s only for a few hours.

Fun random questions:
• dogs or cats?
• Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning, then tea the rest of the day
• Dark or milk chocolate?
• Rocks or flowers?
Rocks if I’m buying them myself, flowers from my husband
• Night or day?
• Favorite color?
Red. No, green. No purple. Wait, green and blue and purple swirled together. I kind
of like lime green, too. Wait, no definitely red. Gah! Why is this so hard?
• Crayons or markers?
• Pens or pencils?

Excerpt Pooka in My Pantry

Chapter 1

You help one monster in need, and everybody hears about it.
The recent appearance of various monsters and mythical creatures in my life took some adjustment. But no amount of flexibility prepared me to assist in the live birth of a sea serpent in my own backyard. That’s a lot to ask of anybody.
My swimming pool looked like a major crime scene, and I was pretty sure bits of mucus mixed with dried blood flecked my hair. I’d probably have to take out a personal loan to cover the water bill once I took a three-hour shower, then drained and refilled the pool.
When the sea serpent appeared in my pool a month before, I had no clue what to do about it. Fortunately, Maurice, my resident closet monster, was quick on his feet. While I stood slack-jawed at the kitchen window, he ran to get Molly to be our translator. Fluent in all sorts of crazy creature languages ranging from house pets to gargoyles, Molly, the brownie, lived in a mushroom house in my backyard with her kids.
As it happened, she was unable to decipher a word of sea-serpentese.
Fortunately, a pygmy dragon with a nasty cold had recently spent his convalescence in my garage. Molly spoke dragonish, and Bruce, the dragon, spoke serpentese. Problem solved.
Except it took over three weeks to find Bruce, leaving us with no idea why a listless, snorting sea serpent had moved into my swimming pool. Communicating in pantomime with a creature that had no hands was futile, absurd and probably hilarious to watch.
When Bruce (via Molly) explained the situation, I did my best not to panic. The sea serpent was pregnant, but she could tell something was wrong. Naturally, she came ashore to my house for help, since everyone in the supernatural community seemed to think I had the answer to every problem.
I had no experience delivering healthy babies of any species. All I had to go on were basic anatomy and zoology classes in college, and a wealth of medical procedural shows on television. And yet, something inside me clicked when Frannie went into labor and the baby stopped moving. I jumped into the water without a thought for my spangled, dry-clean-only shirt, or for the discomfort of wet jeans and high tops. In hindsight, I should’ve at least kicked off my shoes.
I’m not sure how to describe the supreme ick factor of having both arms shoved up to the elbow inside a sea serpent’s body. The baby was turned wrong, kind of folded in half and pointed to emerge center-first, rather than in a straight line with its head or tail facing the exit.
“Don’t push, Frannie,” I said. “I have to unfold the baby or it’ll stay stuck.”
Molly made a series of grunting snorts, which Bruce translated into a series of clicks and yowls. I felt the serpent relax around my squashed arms and wrestled the slippery baby into a better position. Another contraction hit and I stopped, waiting until I had more room to work.
The mournful cry from Frannie needed no translation.
When the contraction was over, I made another grab with one hand to hold the baby steady and pulled the head with the other. I’m not a dainty woman, but I’m not big enough to palm a basketball, either. That’s what it felt like I was trying to do in there, only the basketball in question had eyes I needed to avoid poking, and it was covered in what felt like tapioca pudding.
I got a good grip on a dorsal fin at what I hoped was the back of its neck as the next contraction hit.
Clacks and snarls followed down the translation line, and Frannie pushed while I pulled. My other hand shoved, guiding the rest of the baby straight. Once the head slipped into place, nature took over, and out everything slid. Right into my pool and all over me.
As an empath, I try never to leave the house without my protective walls up. The emotions of other people tend to overwhelm and drain me. But I was at home, and I was exhausted. I’d been so focused on the birth that I hadn’t built any barriers, so there was nothing between me and the small group around me to barricade my psyche against what wasn’t mine. I stood in the frigid water, unconcerned by my shaking body or the gore that covered me.
The emotional inrush saturated me in love and happiness.
Frannie nuzzled her new offspring, and a quiet joy settled over me, warming my freezing flesh. From Molly’s direction, relief lay across my shoulders like a heated blanket, and Bruce’s delight prickled my skin in electric jolts. My eyelids burned. I closed them to relieve the sensation. My back bumped against the side of the pool, and I let my knees bend so I could float.
They shot through the other emotions like tiny arrows. My eyelids cracked open, but only for a few seconds. Nothing was wrong. All was right. My job was done, so what would it hurt to take a little rest?
Thin fingers dug into the flesh in my arms, hauling me from the pool. I made a weak attempt to slap at the intruder.
“Zoey, come on, wake up.” Maurice was there, dragging me away from the water and piling towels on my wet skin.
My eyes snapped open. Well, crap. I lay flat on the pavement, still shivering, despite the previous illusion of warmth. Bodily fluids coated my skin, and Maurice had covered me with my good towels.
The closet monster’s big yellow eyes hovered inches from my face. His worry was so intense, it blocked all the warm fuzzy stuff happening behind him. He coaxed me to my feet, fussing at the towels to keep them from sliding off, and leading me into the house.
“Seriously, Zoey. I don’t know how you stayed alive before I got here. If you didn’t drown, hypothermia would’ve had you.”


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My thoughts:
     I loved this book!  It was my first R.L. Naquin story and I am thrilled to say it won't be my last.  I am reading Monster in My Closet next.  I know that is out of order, but it happens.
     I'm not sure where to start with my thoughts on the story - how original it is? How great the characters are? How wonderfully written it is? What a fantastic storyline/plot it has?
     There were parts that I felt were written just for me.  I can't count the number of times I have heard, "You'll eat real food, not just sandwiches and takeout?" and I felt like Sophie was talking to me when she said, "Sweetheart, once you accept how special you are, you won't want anything less than what you deserve." I have heard that a few times as well. Zoey's collection of friends (family) warmed my heart.  I have always been a collector of misfits - they just seem to fit with me - I got all teary when Zoey started talking about the people that make up her family; how they are a mixed group and there is so much love there - I have always believed that you get to pick your family.
     Okay - so about the book....
The characters are wonderful.  They have been created with depth and incredible personalities.  There is a wide range of types; both "good"guys and "bad." You feel like you know them within a few pages and either love or hate them right away.  I found myself unable to choose which character was my favorite.  The story becomes personal and the pages seem to turn themselves as you can't wait to find out more.
     The plot is original, clever, imaginative and entertaining.  I found myself laughing out loud and almost in tears within paragraphs of each other.  It's a wide ride of emotions and intrigue.
     The writing is fantastic.  The author is a true wordsmith.  She seems to find just the right words to make the story all that you want it to be and more.
I enjoyed every page.