Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day all!  I know I've been slacking.  Life got crazy for a few weeks.  I will be back this week with an official announcement for what's coming next and some other news.  Hope you've enjoyed your weekend!

If you haven't already like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @thatbritnihill.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My interview with the one and only Blake Allee...

I’m really excited for the interview I have for you today.  I have someone here today to talk about music.  I love music and it influences me in a lot of ways.  His name is Blake Allee and I do know him personally, but I can say his music is awesome and mean it.  He is a friend of my boyfriend’s, and I actually used to be his boss when we were about 19.  It’s crazy how far we’ve all come since then.

Blake is incredibly passionate about what he does.  He’s interesting and you can tell he doesn’t care what people think.  I respect that.  I also respect the fact that he does what he does because he loves it.  He does it independently (is everyone sensing a theme lately) and he definitely doesn’t do it for the money (you’ll see why I say that).

I have a special place in my heart for independent artists.  They put themselves out there purely to express themselves.  Whether they be musicians, writers, photographers, painters, or street dancers I think they all deserve to stand in the spotlight at some point.  Why should they be left out?

Without further ado here’s the one and only Blake Allee…

Tell us about yourself…
Hi, my name is Blake Allee, that is my real name and artist name. I
am a musician/artist and super cool dude from Indianapolis. I wear PF
Flyers and like silent horror movies. All I really do is music.

 What genre would you put yourself in?
If I had to pick one it would be Hip Hop since I rap. I just call it music.

 Have you had or do you have a mentor?
Not really, I was self taught how to play, produce, mix, master, and
do artwork on my own. Growing up some of my friends rapped, but more
for fun. I always took it more serious. It takes longer this way,
but you create your own style, not a style based off of ideas from
someone else.

Describe your style…
HHmmm, I am going to go with, Futuristic spoken word in another
dimension. It is not real and it is not fake.

Do you write all your own stuff?
On my last project "My Best Friends Are Machines" I recorded, wrote,
produced, sampled, mixed, mastered and did the artwork for the whole
project. I like to do as much as I can by myself. That way it feels
more like art than manufactured sound.

Do you have a process when it comes to your music? Any quirks
(lucky charms, must haves)?
I like to mix regular Mountain Dew, Code Red, Voltage, and White Out
and drink that when I produce. I like to think it gives me super
powers, it doesn't tho. I also like to produce alone in headphones
when possible.

What other artists influence you?
Anybody with a new vision! Kraftwerk, Bob Dylan, Nas, Ian Curtis, and
Ted Hughes off the top of my head.

Have you always wanted to be a musician?
Pretty much, when I was super little I wanted to be MC Hammer and
Vanilla Ice. I don't care what people say I still like those guys.

I know you've done lots of live performances, and some recently
have been in bigger venues, what's that like?
I love performing in larger venues. If I am the headliner it is
really cool but a lot of pressure to bring a crowd, which is tough in
Indianapolis. Opening up for larger national acts the crowd is much
bigger tho. The crowd is not there to see you, so basically, you have
to impress the hell out of them ha. I have had really great reactions
thus far.

Last but not least...

What do you think about being an indie musician? Is it difficult?
I give my music away free and do not make a ton of money on live
shows. I love that approach, just being like a nomad/renegade. The
major draw back is having to have a real job. Most indie musicians
are not making enough to live on the music. It is as difficult as you
want it to be. Music is really all I think about, ask anyone who
knows me. It can be difficult and frustrating at times, but without
music or art, life would seem somewhat pointless.

Where can people buy your music?
You can buy it on iTunes, Amazon, in Indianapolis record stores.
Do not do that tho, download it free at:

Thanks to Blake for stopping by!  I had a blast finding out more about him and I hope you all head over to any of his sites and check him out.

And…I think I found my new favorite quote… “It can be difficult and frustrating at times, but without music or art, life would seem somewhat pointless.” –Blake Allee

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Release Day Celebration: The Low Notes by Kate Roth

Today is the day!  My best friend's first novel is out.  That means everyone can buy it!

My friend Kate Roth is and awesome writer and I've seen the The Low Notes through many stages.  I'm most excited for it's final stage.

When a chance meeting between high school teacher Kevin Reed and singer Nina Jordan ignites an instant spark, they must decide if it's more important to follow your heart or follow the rules.

After caring for his dying father, Kevin Reed, returns to his hometown of Wexley Falls, bereaved, unemployed and exhausted at the thought of starting a new life. After a failed blind date, Kevin meets young singer Nina Jordan who takes his breath away with the sound of her voice. The connection is instantaneous and mutual on their first date, but both are crestfallen when they discover days later, to their horror, Nina is Kevin's student at the local high school.

Deciphering between notions of love and lust, fate and coincidence, Kevin and Nina find themselves unable to turn their backs on what they can't deny is a once in a lifetime feeling. Told from both perspectives, The Low Notes explores a love that feels right even though it seems wrong.

Kate Roth's first novel is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ARe, and BookStrand.

Congrats Kate!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fellow Rebel Kate Roth: A Little About The Low Notes

I'm so excited to welcome my best friend and fellow author today.  Her debut release, The Low Notes, is coming up on Thursday.  I hope you all read it. 

First of all thank you so much Britni for having me! 

I couldn’t be happier to share with everyone my labor of love, The Low Notes. It seemed for so long that this story might never be read by anyone but my close friends, but now it’s almost my release day and everyone will get to meet two very important people to me. Kevin and Nina are two characters that will always hold a special place in my heart not only because they are my first to be published but because they have been with me for a very long time. They have been taking over my days and nights for the past few years as I wrote and edited The Low Notes. But long before that they were seedlings of inspiration going back as far as high school.

I’m so thrilled to be sharing Kevin and Nina’s story with the world. Here’s a little about the book.

When a chance meeting between high school teacher Kevin Reed and singer Nina Jordan ignites an instant spark, they must decide if it's more important to follow your heart or follow the rules.

After caring for his dying father, Kevin Reed, returns to his hometown of Wexley Falls, bereaved, unemployed and exhausted at the thought of starting a new life. After a failed blind date, Kevin meets young singer Nina Jordan who takes his breath away with the sound of her voice. The connection is instantaneous and mutual on their first date, but both are crestfallen when they discover days later, to their horror, Nina is Kevin's student at the local high school.

Deciphering between notions of love and lust, fate and coincidence, Kevin and Nina find themselves unable to turn their backs on what they can't deny is a once in a lifetime feeling. Told from both perspectives, The Low Notes explores a love that feels right even though it seems wrong.

Follow me on Facebook ( ) and Twitter (@KateRothWrites ) and find out more about me on my blog

Kate Roth's first novel with be available May 17, 2012.  Stop by her blog or here for purchase links.
Thanks again for stopping  by Kate!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fellow Rebel: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy...

                Ever read the popular comic strip Beetle Bailey about the antics of a soldier stationed at Camp Swampy? Mort Walker didn’t just dream up a mythical Army post – he based it on his time stationed at the “real” Camp Swampy, a World War II training camp in the wilds of southern Missouri called Camp Crowder.  These days, not much remains of the original Camp Crowder or the short-lived Fort Crowder years but there’s still a National Guard base on site, still called Camp Crowder.  A few of the original barracks buildings are still there too. Since I happen to live in Neosho, where Camp Crowder is located, I’ve long been intrigued with the history.  As one older resident, now deceased, once told me, life changed forever in this small sleepy town when the Army arrived. “It was night and day,” Mr. Harold Welcher told me, “night and day.”
                My next Rebel Ink Press release, In The Shadow of War, is set during World War II. I think the blurb explains what the story is about so here it is:


Her great-granddaughter wants to know if Bette remembers World War II for a school project and her questions revive old memories….

Small town school teacher Bette Sullivan's life was interrupted when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941 but her world changed forever when she met Private Benny Levy, a soldier from the Flatbush neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York stationed at Camp Crowder, the local Army base.

Their attraction is immediate and mutual but as their relationship grows their love and lives are shadowed by World War II. As the future looms uncertain the couple comes together with almost desperate need and a powerful love they hope can weather anything, including the war.

It’s my first full length historical romance but so far, a lot of important (well, to me, anyway) people tell me they think I’ve hit on something, a genre which works for me.  Since I earned a dual BA degree in History and English, it may be so.  I hope it is – because my second full length historical romance, Guy’s Angel debuts on June 3 from Rebel Ink Press.

Here’s a little excerpt from In The Shadow of War:
          This soldier sported a neat snub nose and a strong chin.  When he turned as if he sensed her gaze, Bette noted his slender gold-rimmed eyeglasses.  Behind the specs, his beautiful grey eyes were framed with black lashes.  His slender lips curved in a half-smile and a blush heated her cheeks as she glanced away.  If she read his expression right, he liked her admiration.  When she fumbled the next response, Aunt Virgie glared at her so she tried to pay more attention, but after Mass she tried to get outside to see if the soldier lingered.  She saw him as soon as they exited the church, but he stood in the center of a group of other Army men, smoking.
          Bette watched him while her aunt chattered.  The more she saw, the more she liked.  He stood with a Lucky clinging to his lip, his stance more cocky than military.   He laughed at something one of the other soldiers said and started to move away from the group headed in her general direction.  Bette took two steps forward, jerked one of the dime store hoop earrings from her ear, and dropped it.
          “Whoops,” she said, raising her voice as she touched her fingers to her ear lobe. “I just lost an earring.”
          The earbob dropped into a thick clump of clover but before she could attempt to retrieve it, a shadow fell across the green patch and the soldier she’d admired scooped up the earring with one hand.  He stretched out his hand, his square fingers wrapped around the little gold hoop.
          “Is this yours?” he asked, his voice coming out with an accent she’d never heard outside the pictures.  To Bette’s ears, it sounded like he’d said. Is dis yers?, with the last word stretched out into multiple syllables.
          “It is, thanks,” she said and held out her hand.  He dropped the hoop into her palm as his fingers tickled over her skin.  The slight touch made her shiver. “I guess you’re stationed at Camp Crowder?”
          “Yeah,” he said in a voice similar to Jimmy Cagney’s. “I’ve been here a coupla weeks now.  It’s a long way from home.”
          “Where are you from?” she asked, unable to stop staring at his gorgeous eyes.
          “Brooklyn,” he said without hesitation. “Flatbush, Brooklyn.  I’m Private Levy, Benjamin Levy although my ma calls me Benny.”
          Bette couldn’t stop smiling at him.  “Well, Benny Levy, I’m Bette Sullivan and I’m a farm girl from just outside Neosho.”
          “I’m pleased to meet you,” Ben Levy said. “Hey you wanta go have coffee with me downtown or something? I’ll buy you breakfast if you like.  I’m starving.” 
          She admired his dark looks, enhanced by the starched summer khakis he wore and nodded. “I’d love to.  Let me go tell my aunt so she won’t expect me home.”
           Bette turned around to find Aunt Virgie watching, mouth drooped open and eyes broad with surprise.  Her cadre of lady friends wore the same stunned expression.
          “Aunt Virgie,” Bette said, in her best polite tone. “I’m going downtown with Private Levy, but I’ll be home for dinner, okay?”
          “Child, you don’t even know him!” Her aunt’s shocked outrage wasn’t faked. “You weren’t raised like this.”
          “We’re at war,” Bette replied, voice mild. “I’m going to breakfast, not a bar room.”
          “Good morning, ladies,” Ben Levy said, appearing at Bette’s side. “I’m Private Benjamin Levy from Brooklyn, New York.  My home parish is Our Lady of Refuge.  I’ve been an altar boy and until I joined the Army, I worked as an auto mechanic.  If you need a reference, Father Connolly can give you one if you write him a letter or you can call my ma.  We ain’t got a phone but the neighbor downstairs will fetch her if you want the number.”
          Although his voice remained even and polite, nice as anyone at any social gathering, his cheek amused Bette.  With just a few words, he charmed and disarmed her aunt.
          “Well, I don’t think I need to,” Aunt Virgie said with a sigh.  “Honey, go ahead and have breakfast.  Private Levy, would you like to join us for Sunday dinner?”
          He grinned wide and Bette’s heart heated up a few more degrees.  Lord but his good looks and sweet words warmed her.

Thanks for stopping by Lee Ann!  Head on over to Lee Ann's blog to find out more about her and her other releases.  Don't forget to look for In the Shadow War available May 17th.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Passing of an Icon...

Today, at the age of 84, a great innovator of the beauty and fashion industry passed away.

  I find myself inspired to tell you about this because his career and life fascinated me.  Vidal Sassoon led an amazing life and he had a vision.  A vision that he saw through.  He came from nearly nothing and had very little education.  Yet he was determined.  He started as a shampoo boy when he was 14.  And his career advanced from there.

Doing hair was an art form to him.  He changed the styling industry forever.  Before Sassoon women were going to the salon weekly wearing stiff set styles that weren't flattering to all.  He saw ways for women to have cuts and styles manageable at home.  Styles that flattered their face shapes.  And styles that were just plain edgy.  Hair became an accessory.  And he helped invent the mini skirt and we can't hate him for that.

He built an empire in England and then headed to New York.  Doing the same there.  He ended up with a brand including styles, products, clothing, and he even hosted his own tv show.  He styled hair for celebrities and on movie sets.  If I only accomplish a quarter of what he did in my own hair styling career I will be happy.

Vidal Sassoon was an icon.  An innovator.  And an artistic genius.

I will always remember and look up to you.  RIP Vidal Sassoon.

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Stay in a Century Old Hotel...

My boyfriend and I recently went to Chicago for a few days.  We were celebrating lots of things and wanted to do something fun.  We were celebrating my book release, his 30th birthday, my 30th birthday, and our 2 year anniversary.  All of which are within 3 weeks of each other.  We decided to go the Shedd Aquarium.  So I made the plans and booked the hotel.

I’m kind of picky when it comes to where I stay.  I base what a hotel is going to be like on the comforters.  I’m sure that’s not really a true assessment but I can’t seem to help it.  I found a pretty good deal on a place and started reading reviews.  They were horrible.  And once I saw two, yes two, that mentioned scabies and bed bugs I decided that wasn’t happening.  My search continued leading me to the place we ended up staying.  It had a decent price and the comforters were not sea foam green with pink splashes.  Still, I had to check out the reviews.  I found out that it’s the oldest hotel in the city.  It was built in the 1890’s. 

So, off we go to stay in the Congress Plaza Hotel.  I was pretty excited for this trip.  I don’t take time off of work very often so when I do I try to make it count.  My boyfriend was a bit grumbly at first.  I thing turning 30 got him down a bit…shhh. 

I love history and old structures.  There are so many stories hidden in places like that.  The hotel was beautiful.  It did make me kind of sad because there were parts that weren’t being cared for the way they should be.  If it was restored and taken care of it would be absolutely amazing.

In our search for information about the hotel we found some sights claiming that it was haunted.  No surprise there it’s over 100 years old.  Most older places have stories of ghost and strange happenings.  Well, one room in particular was said to be the most haunted.  Stories say that security gets call there most often and that people staying in the room report seeing the shadowy figure of a woman.  As we’re checking in my boyfriend decides to ask for this room.  Room 441. The woman behind the desk stutters and freezes for a moment.  Then she does some tapping on her keyboard and asks us if we are sure.  At this point I’m laughing and my boyfriend is nodding.  So we end up staying in room 441, the most haunted room at the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago.

We gave ourselves a midnight tour of the hotel.  We wandered around both towers and almost all of the floors.  Attempted to get into The Gold Room, which is the massive ballroom that’s been there since the place was built.  It was locked.  No surprise there.  There were moments walking down the narrow halls that I felt like I was in the shining.  It was definitely an adventure.  Unfortunately, the rooms aren’t very air conditioned and the bed was extremely uncomfortable.  I can’t report any sightings of shadowy figures or strange sounds but it was fun to take in all history.

We also go to see “the bean”, Millennium Park, and we sat at a corner coffee shop for a while and people watched.  It was a great trip!

Friday, May 4, 2012

How Do I Develop My Characters....

So I asked what people wanted to know about me, my writing, or my characters in an effort to get closer to my readers and friends.  My wonderful brother came up with the best idea.  “You should write about your characters.  Where do they come from, who are they based on, how do you develop the personalities of individuals that exist only in your noggin?  That would be neat.”  He’s pretty smart.  He can also write but that’s a topic for another day.

My characters are usually a handful.  As for where they come from.  Well, they come from everything around me.  The people I meet, my clients, my friends and family, and myself.  I am a people watcher.  I could do it for hours.  My boyfriend and I were recently in Chicago and we found a little corner coffee shop and sat at the window seats and just watched the people rushing by.  It was great!  Sometimes I see people on the street or the store and I can just get a sense of their personality and the next thing you know I’ve got a character.

I’ve never directly based a character on any one person.  I’m sure it will happen eventually.  Some characters are a compilation of people I love.  Other of people I hate.  I pull habits, mannerisms, and tones from everyone around me.

Developing a character’s personality is interesting.  Sometimes they develop themselves and sometimes they need my help.  The most difficult thing for me is keeping the voices in my head straight.  Making sure that everyone is an individual on paper as well as in my imagination.  I’m a list person.  So I have a list for everything.  Some author’s have to have names and character profiles before they can start writing.  Not me.  I start writing and then make my lists.  What my character looks like, name, personality quirks.  My characters have favorite songs, book, and movies.  They end up being real people to me.  My only hope is to translate that onto page.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

D. Renee Bagby's

First chapter of Tears in the Rubble is up to read over at D. Renee Bagby's.  If you don't have your copy yet head on over and get a sneak peek.

Tears in the Rubble is now available in ebook format and paperback.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Endangered Species: The Book...

Going from a writer to an author (and yes there is a distinction) has been an interesting journey so far.  It got me thinking about a lot of things that never crossed my mind before.  Mostly I think about how the book is slowly becoming extinct.  In today’s time of technology who needs a physical book in their hand.  Well, I do.  I have an e-reader.  I’ve read books on my laptop.  Is it convenient?  Yes.  But there’s still something about having a copy of a book.  I love it.  The feel.  The smell.  There’s something to be said for physically turning a page.  

As an author I feel technology limits the amount of people I can reach.  Though technology is abundant there is still a mass of people that don’t depend on it.  Some people still walk into a book store and look at the books.  They read the backs, they run their hands over the covers and that’s how they choose what to read.  Not everyone has a Kindle or a Nook, but everyone can go to a bookstore.  Unless they become obsolete and disappear all together.

My publisher is small and independent.  I love my publisher and I wouldn’t have done this any differently but because I chose a small publisher my book may never sit on the shelf of a book store.  And I wonder why.   I can’t make sense of it at all.  With stores struggling to stay open why do they only stock the authors of big corporate publishers?  Why limit what you sell when you are already losing sales?  You’d think they would willingly accept anything they can get in their stores.

I read all different genres by all different levels of authors.  I’ve read plenty of books by independently published authors, and there are some pretty amazing writers that aren’t getting noticed.  It’s really just not fair.  Why should I or my fellow Rebels be left out? 

I didn’t write a novel or have it published to get rich.  Far from it actually.  I wanted people to get to meet my characters and to know their stories.  I did it because I love it.  But I still want my book to reach as many people as it can.  We support big corporate companies on a daily basis because we have to.  It’s unavoidable in today’s society.  But we can still support local businesses and independent artists.  They deserve it just as much as the big box retailers.

So I ask everyone that’s read my book or plans to, everyone that is a fan of one of my fellow Rebels, and of course my fellow authors do you want to see our books on shelves in stores?  Why not?  And what can we do to make it happen?