Book Spotlight and Review: Murder Upon A Midnight Clear by Juli D. Revezzo

murderuponcoverneg500‘Tis the season … for death.
Murder reminds Detective Helene Collias of Holly PD that crime doesn’t respect holidays. And the last victim she ever expected to find in her case files is the sister of her old flame, Sean Grant. Ordinarily, Helene’s psychic gifts give her an edge but this time, that gift has short-circuited. Could her lingering attraction to Sean be blurring her abilities, or is something more sinister at work?

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My Review: Five Snap, Crackle and Pops
Helene Collias has a bit of an edge over the rest of the shield carrying detectives on the Holly Municipal Police force. She has psychic powers and will need every bit of
them to solve one of the creepiest cases of her career.  A young woman who worked as an elf at the local mall has been murdered and the best lead she has is that the killer may be working as Santa. To make matters worse, the victim is the sister of a ruggedly handsome guy she nearly hooked up with on a senior cruise in high school. Sean Grant lost his parents at a young age, now his younger sister is dead at the hands of a killer with an agenda. But what is his agenda? Why does he go after the Grant family with such a vengeance?Against her better judgment and department policy, Helene is drawn to Sean. She resists the attraction and so does Sean, but the urge to solve the case with its bizarre twists and turns drives both of them to distraction in more ways than one.
This is a hot novel with edge of the seat pacing and a plot that doesn’t let you down. Each character is richly drawn and believable. I especially appreciated the author’s use of the paranormal, without relying on a magical solution to the case. Get it while it’s hot hot hot! I give this book five sizzling stars for a great blend of solid police work, suspense, paranormal touches, and sexy characters who can’t keep their hands off each other.
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Juli D. Revezzo is a Florida girl, with a love of fantasy, science fiction, and Arthurian JuliDRevezzoblegend, so much so she gained a B.A. in English and American Literature. She loves writing stories with fantastical elements whether it be a full-on fantasy, or a story set in this world-slightly askew. She has been published in short form in Eternal Haunted Summer, Dark Things II: Cat Crimes (a charity anthology for cat related charities), Luna Station Quarterly, The Scribing Ibis: An Anthology of Pagan Fiction in Honor of Thoth, and Twisted Dreams Magazine. Her debut paranormal romance novel, Passion’s Sacred Dance, was recently released.

She is a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour. Come learn more about her at http://julidrevezzo.com

Interview with Lisa Olech, Debut Author of Picture Me Naked

Lisa - Author shot 2I am delighted to have Lisa Olech, with me today to chat with us about Picture Me Naked.

Lisa is an artist/writer living in her dream house nestled among the lakes in New England. She loves getting lost in a steamy book, finding the perfect pair of sexy shoes, and hearing the laughter of her men. Being an estrogen island in a sea of testosterone makes her queen. She believes in ghosts, silver linings, the power of a man in a tuxedo, and happy endings.

Lisa, what made you decide to be an author?

That’s an interesting story. I’m an artist and I was taking a course called ‘The Artist’s Way,’ which is all about nourishing your creativity and bringing more spirituality into your work. One of the assignments was to schedule an ‘artist’s date’ with yourself every week. As my artist date one week, I found a writing workshop offered at my local university. It was called the ‘Bad Girl Writing Workshop.’ I’d written a small bit before, nothing major, I just thought this would be fun. I’d never taken a writing workshop before so had no idea what to expect.

The instructor started us out with some quick 5-minute prompts, and I started writing away. It was several months after my father passed away, and I started pouring my heart out onto the page. We took a break and the instructor informed us that when we got back we would share what we’d written. I hit full flop-sweat panic mode! I was in the back of the room with no avenue for escape. So, I had to put on my big girl pants and read what I’d written. By the time I was finished, I was crying. I looked up and EVERYONE was crying.

After class, the instructor told me I needed to keep writing. I told her I didn’t know what I was doing, that I took the workshop on a lark. She said I had something she couldn’t teach people, a rhythm and flow to my writing that spoke of a true writer. She actually got angry when I tried to dismiss the idea. Three other women in the class asked me to join their writing group. I knew I didn’t want to write the type of thing I’d written in that workshop. Too much angst, too much pain. I’m not that type of person, so I tried my hand at writing humor and they loved that too. So I started writing shorts and memoire, and then I heard about this little thing called National Novel Writers Month (NANOWRIMO), I wrote my first novel in 2004 and never looked back!

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?

The best part of writing for me is when my characters surprise me. It happens in every book I’ve written. I’ll have one character go ‘rogue’ and do or say something completely independent of what’s in MY head. I love it.

The least is when I get an attack of self-doubt, but I think that’s common among writers and artists.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?

I’m a daydreamer and a creative thinker, and I’ve always loved telling a good story. And I’m a hopeless romantic who’s been married to her best friend for over thirty years, so writing romance was a natural for me.

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?

Absolutely!! All of them!

You’ve written seven novels and are working on a five book series. What’s your favorite time management tip?

My best time is early mornings, so the alarm goes off at 5:00 and I’m in my writing chair by 5:15. (I’ve even put a coffee maker in my bedroom!) I try to limit my early morning email checking, etc. and spend at least three hours writing every morning. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?

Oh, I am a definite pantser. Over the years, I have worked with very loose outlines and scene schedules, but for the most part, I like to let the story bloom on its own.

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?

I actually got a piece of advice from a very wise woman when I first started writing. She told me not to submit anything for at least a year. She said this was a tough business and I needed to develop a thick skin if I was to survive. She was right.

Do you have a theme song for this book? What music did you go back to over and over as you wrote it?

I don’t have a theme song for this book. The only music was Jagger’s humming and gentle guitar playing, and that was only in my head.

Tell me more about Picture Me Naked. PictureMeNaked_w7791_300 (1)

Z. Z. LAMBERT wasn’t born uptight, but someone needed to be the adult. Zee’s a “color-inside-the-lines” artist with a hippy mother, a mostly dead grandmother, and a cat named Isabella Rossellini. Add to her life’s palette a stunning new life model, Jagger Jones. Is it just her, or does all the air leave the room when he shows up? Good thing he’s just passing through. This is no time to fall in love, especially not with her model, no matter how perfectly knee-melty he may be.

Australian JAGGER JONES is a rolling stone. Living with nothing to tie you down takes talent. Posing without your britches is a piece of cake. He’s three years into his walkabout with only his dead father’s ashes for company.

But Z.Z. Lambert stops him faster than a croc in the mud. Her paintings of him are incredible. She sees past all of his posturing, past the flesh and bone and uncovers his heart. Zee understands the promise he made his father, and comes to love him enough to let him go. But does she love him enough to let him stay? His only other choice is a future without her. And he can’t picture that at all.

How about an excerpt from Picture Me Naked?

      “Artists, let me introduce Mr. Jagger Jones. He’ll be with us for the next several weeks. Make him feel welcome, shall we? Let’s not frighten him off on his first day.” Did Madeline just giggle? “Jagger, there is a men’s room down the hall, third door on the right. You can change down there.” She tipped her hand and checked her oversized watch. “We appear to be running a bit behind schedule this morning, so if you’d like to get us started, I think we’re ready for you.”

“Won’t be needin’ the men’s room, Maddie, darlin’. Can be naked in a blink of your lovely baby blues.” Jagger smiled at Madeline, dropped a beaten canvas book bag near the model stage and kicked off his sandals.

Zee glanced at Leah. She was practically drooling.

“Yummy. Don’t you just love his accent?” Leah whispered. “And what a cool name.”

“Charming,” Zee muttered, trying to shut out the Australian lilt. She resharpened and organized her already sharpened, organized pencils. Next to her, she heard Leah gasp and exclaim under her breath, “Mercy.”

Zee looked back at the model’s dais. Oh… my…

Mr. Jagger Jones may or may not be arrogant, but he was a beautiful example of the male form. His tall frame made his physique long and lean, yet his muscles were chiseled and well defined. She only had a view of his backside, but it was one of the finest backsides Zee had ever seen.

And then Jagger Jones turned around.

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet? 

Website: http://www.lisaolech.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lisa.A.Olech.Writer

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LisaOlech

Buy Links: http://www.amazon.com/Picture-Naked-Stoddard-Art-School-ebook/dp/B00FE3QK0C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1386082422&sr=1-1&keywords=picture+me+naked

http://www.amazon.com/Picture-Me-Naked-Lisa-Olech/dp/1628300418/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1386082422&sr=1-1

Picture Me Naked can also be purchased through The Wild Rose Press. www.thewildrosepress.com

Lisa, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.

Thank you, Sharon! It’s been my pleasure!

Interview with Tony-Paul de Vissage, Author of Shadow Lord

BEVFINALshadow lord 6x9 300 dpi copy

I am delighted to have my Paranormal Romance Guild friend, Tony-Paul de Vissage, with me today to chat with us about Shadow Lord, Book 1 of the Second Species series.

A writer of French Huguenot extraction, Tony-Paul de Vissage saw his first vampire movie on television at age 6–the old Universal horror flick, Dracula’s Daughter–and was scared sleepless. He’s now paying his very permissive parents back by writing about the Undead.

Tony-Paul, what made you decide to be an author?

It was a process of elimination. I’m too short to be a nightclub bouncer, too pretty to be a Marine, don’t have the patience to be a teacher, and my Maman wouldn’t let me out of her sight long enough for me to get on a plane and go to Hollywood to be an actor, so… I chose the better of all possible worlds and became a writer.

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?

What I like is telling those stories. Getting all them out of my head and into some coherent form.  Unfortunately, that’s like digging a hole in sand, because as soon as I empty my brain of one story, another takes its place.

What don’t I like? Living the life of a starving writer. Those cold water, 4th floor walk-ups can be murder, especially in the winter when the wind moans through the hallways. It does help with the inspiration, however. 

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?

If you’ve read any of the various biographies floating around (and you should take all of them with a shaker of salt), you know I was either a) traumatized at the age of 6 by seeing Dracula’s Daughter, or b) traumatized by being kidnapped by the Andriescu family of vampires at the age of 16, or c) had such permissive parents they didn’t even consider being exposed to horror movies in any form could influence an impression child like moi. Either way, vampires enter into it, so I think I was destined to be a writer of paranormals from an early age.

Other than that, I’ve had plenty of experiences which I’ve translated, in slightly edited and censored form, into passages in my stories, so I’d say they prepared me plenty!

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?

Oh oui! If fact, I’ve often commented on that.  Actually, I once read a short story by Frederic Brown which used that very theme and it certainly hit home! It used to be all I had to do was look at something, or hear a specific phrase and the story would start flowing…from page one all the way through. I’d be at my place of employment toiling away, but a part of my brain would be composing. It got so I wished I could turn it off occasionally. Once I was at a writer’s meeting in California and someone said to me, “I’ll bet you could write a poem if I said…” and she threw out a phrase. I groaned, “Why did you have to do that?” because my brain caught it and started in.  I had the entire thing composed and edited in 10 minutes.

You’ve written seven novels and are currently working on a trilogy. What’s your favorite time management tip?

I really don’t have one. Being unemployed (though Human Services insists on saying I’m self-employed), I have plenty of time to write, so that’s what I do…from the time I get up until around seven or eight PM. Then I take a little break and watch some telly before crashing for the night.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?

I guess I’m organic, my brain kicks in and I let my fingers do the walking…across the keyboard. I tried outlining once but it got so complicated I was practically writing the novel then and there so I decided, “To heck with this! I’ll just do it once and get it over with.”

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?

Don’t give up.

Do you have a theme song for this book? What music did you go back to over and over as you wrote it?

It wasn’t a theme song, but it was music. I have this Beethoven CD and there was one piece on it which was so deep, dark, and dramatic, I felt it hit the exact spot when it came to this novel. For those who might care to give a listen, it’s Symphony #7 in A Major, Op. 92, 2nd movement, the Allegretto. As far as I’m concerned, the various sections of that movement capture completely the entire story, from the murder of Marek’s parents, to his losing the woman he loves, to his confrontation with the killer in Paris. Very dramatic, but ol’ Ludwig von always is.

Tell me more about Shadow Lord.

I wanted to write a vampire series but I wanted my vampires to be different. (At this point, I confess to having read JR Ward’s first entry in the Black Dagger Brotherhood and I so liked the ideas she put forth, I was encouraged to write my own series, so merci, JR!) As mentioned in some of my other blogs, the genetic problem of XP runs in my family, so I decided to use my experience with that condition as the basis for why the characters in my story were considered vampires. I threw in a revenge motif, a long-lost love, and a secret about the hero even he didn’t know, stirred well, and voila!

An excerpt from Shadow Lord won an award at the 2009 Maryland Writer’s “Reveal Your Inner Vixen” contest, by the way.

BLURB:

Men call them vampires.  They call themselves aventurieri.  For generations, they hid in the mists of the Carpathians away from their human foes.

In 1793, everything changes… Their Prince’s assassin is murdered. His son demands revenge.

Marek Strigoi’s quest for justice will take him from his Transylvanian homeland to the Hellfire clubs of Vienna and the boudoir of a Parisian Marquise, and a love surviving the centuries…but he can’t give up his quest.

When both the hunter and the hunted are vampires, not even Hell will stand in the way!

How about an excerpt from Shadow Lord?

Though the sun had been down for many hours, Elsabeta Suvoi was still abed. Her lover liked her that way, wanting his woman where she was convenient whenever his lust seized him.

Elsabeta was slavishly in love with Mircea Ravagiu. He was violent and insatiable, as cruel in bed as out of it, but she worshipped him. It had been so from the moment they met, after her father’s reluctant invitation to a banchet at his castel. Elsabeta had taken one look at the black-eyed warrior, saw the lustful gleam in his eyes, and left with him that night against her parents’ wishes. She’d sullied the Suvoi name to become his iubita…and she didn’t care.

He never spoke aloud that he loved her, though often he praised her body for the satisfaction it gave him. He said straightaway she should never expect marriage or offspring, but Elsabeta was a female of her time from a family of women considered mere chattels to their males, so she accepted his domination without argument. Running away with Mircea was her one independent act.

At first horrified by the bloody orgies and attacks upon the deomi, the humans living on the edges of his estate, she now ignored his rapaciousness and his brutal games, letting his prowess in bed distract her. When her lover and his soldati returned from their hunts, she locked herself in her bedchamber, its thick walls drowning out the screams from below. It was the cries of the children cut most into her soul. At those times, she thanked the Oracle Ravagiu swore he’d never get her with child, for it came into her mind should it happen, it might be her own infant shrieking out its life in the castel banquet chamber.

To Elsabeta, Mircea Ravagiu was like one of the dreadful Ancient Ones who devoured its own offspring. She truly believed he wouldn’t hesitate to rip out his own child’s throat and drink its blood should the thought come to him. Yet, with that perversity Nature renders some, she loved the man and never thought to leave him.

She was jerked from her semi-slumber by the chamber door being kicked open, sat up to stare at the figure in the doorway…Mircea, upper body bare, wings hovering around him.

They were still quivering, evidence he’d flown rapidly and had just landed. From where she sat, she could hear his harsh panting. He held something in his arms.

“Get dressed.” No words of greeting or love. Just an order.

“Why? What’s the matter?” A loud crashing came through the doorway, voices crying out. “What’s that noise?”

“My men are disposing of the vanjosi.” He answered as calmly as if merely announcing the moon had risen. “Strigoi’s freak’s on his way here and we have to go.”

“You should’ve expected this.” She dared remind him of what he’d done, though it jeopardized her own life. “Did you think you could slaughter his family and he wouldn’t retaliate?”

She’d been horrified when he returned from his brother’s castel announcing they’d been executed by the Prince’s Taietor, didn’t believe it when he said he planned to kill the Shadow

Lord and his family. She hadn’t thought he’d succeed and waited to be told he was dead, resigned to living the rest of her days as an outcast for the choice she’d made. And then, Mircea returned, bloodily triumphant…and Janos Strigoi and his wife were dead and their children carried away to be tortured before their blood nourished their father’s enemy.

“I never thought that book-bound scholastic’d have balls enough to take a sword in his hands.” He stalked into the room. The sounds from below got louder, women screaming, men shouting, voices abruptly cut off to be replaced by others just as terrified. “Get up or you’ll join my servants.”

Sliding from the bed, she hastened to obey but as she reached for her chemise and overskirt, he said, “We’re flying. Make certain your wings are unhampered.”

The bundle he held began to move. It squirmed, kicking itself free of the swathing blanket. A plump little leg, an arm…a baby, a little girl-child, tiny and out of place in Mircea’s deadly embrace.

“Dear one.” Elsabeta stopped with the garment in her hands. A sick dread twisted inside her. “W-who’s that?”

“My daughter.” His answer was as short as if he’d bitten the word. “Now.”

Daughter? How can he have a child? Hadn’t he told her he wished no brats, that the only thing he wanted from them was their sweet, immortality-laden blood?

Shrugging her wings out of their concealing pouches, she peered at the infant. The child whimpered, turning her head and holding out her hands. She was blond and blue-eyed, not quite a year old. This is Janos Strigoi’s child. Elsabeta’s heart felt as if it had been wrung dry.

“What are you going to do with her?” Even as she asked the question, she knew she had to prevent it. If she had to risk her own life and finally brave Mircea’s wrath, she couldn’t let him harm this child.

“It’ll be fitting, don’t you think?” His laugh was harsh. “Raising the Shadow Lord’s brat as my own? Teaching her how to be a Ravagiu and some day, letting the survivors know?”

“No! Please…” A woman’s scream floated up to them, dying away in a bloody wail.

“Are you ready?” He thrust the child into her arms. Elsabeta cuddled it against her naked breast, holding the little body tightly. I must do whatever it takes to protect this baby. If it kills me.

He held out his hand.

“Where are we going?” She placed her own in it. He led her toward the window.

“I’m fortunate my brother saw fit to have holdings in other countries and I’ve traveled to them.” One fist struck the shutters, sending them flying. He climbed upon the sill. “We’re going to Budapest. Hold tight to the brat. If you drop her, I’ll kill you.”

He flung himself through the window into the air. Naked as she was, Elsabeta was pulled along, clutching the child. Releasing her hand, Mircea circled and rose swiftly, his body completing a graceful curve as he aimed himself over the trees, Elsabeta trailing after him.

Below them, the killings continued for another hour.

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?

I’m here, I’m there, I’m everywhere!  Following is the official list, plus those dedicated to just the Second Species:  VampiresAreForever_D_Front

URL: http://www.tony-paul.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonypaul.devissage?fref=ts 

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/505918625

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5117438.Tony_Paul_de_Vissage

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007BDHDZY

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/tonypauldev

Twitter: @tpvissage

Information on The Second Species:

Youtube: http://youtu.be/oB9flkJu6P0

http://youtu.be/7aXa6nYenbY

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Second-Species/267805643283799

Website: Http://www.tony-paul.com/

Buy at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Lord-Tony-Paul-Vissage-ebook/dp/B00GH0YJP4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383749411&sr=1-1&keywords=Shadow+Lord+by+Tony-Paul+de+Vissage

Buy at Double Dragon Publishing: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=Shadow%20Lord

Tony-Paul, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.

Book Spotlight: Prime Catch by Ilona Fridl

PrimeCatch_w7774_300Blurb: Someone is killing executives in a string of Alaskan canneries. Is it natives because their food supply is being cut short? Or is there another reason, another culprit? With racial tension running high, Juneau ‘s Sheriff Amos Darcy, a man of few words, is going to find out who it is, come hell or high water.Deputy Sarah Lakat, a Tlingit woman, knows her job, but she wants to prove her people aren’t responsible for these vicious crimes. Her family and childhood friends give her access to clues the white sheriff would never have discovered, though, and she has to realize justice must be served no matter who the murderers are.Amos is married to his work and Sarah was badly hurt by a man in her past, yet as they work together in the investigation they grow close, facing danger and discrimination together. Can they solve the case even as they fight their attraction to each other?

Excerpt:

Amos parked the patrol car near the airfield’s office and carried his bag and Sarah’s to the young man. “Lakat, this is our pilot, Bill Wright. Bill, this is my deputy, Sarah Lakat.”

Sarah held out her hand to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed pilot. “Nice to meet you.”

Bill acknowledged her and took their bags to store in a compartment of the plane. He waved them to the back. “There’s seats back there for passengers. You can strap yourselves in, and we’ll be off in five minutes.”

The seats proved to be little more than a cushioned metal frame bolted to the floor. Sarah and Amos found the ends of the safety belts that would hold them in the contraption. Finally, the craft started bumping along the grassy field. Sarah swallowed hard and closed her eyes. This was the first time she had flown, but she knew this was the fastest way to get to Sitka, so she didn’t tell Amos.

About ten minutes into the flight, Sarah heard, “Lakat, are you all right?”

She hesitated a moment. “Yes. Why do you ask?” She opened her eyes and peered at Amos.

Amos tugged at his mustache with an amused glint. “You’re as pale as death. Is this the first time you’ve flown?”

“Yes. But I can take it.”

Amos broke out into a grin. “Swell. I hope I don’t have nursemaid duty when we get to Sitka.”

She gave him an evil-eyed glare. “You won’t. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll handle this myself.” She closed her eyes again and rested her head against the metal bulkhead just as the little plane gave a jerk. Amos snorted as she rubbed the bump on the back of her head. “Not a word, Sheriff.” She glared at him.

Bio: Ilona Fridl was born in California, but now lives in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin. CIMG0486She studied Journalism and Creative Writing in high school and college. Hating typewriters, she didn’t do much writing until she got a computer. She sold her first novel in 2008 and is still going. She lives with her husband, Mark. She belongs to Romance Writers of America and was a student of Kathie Giorgio, owner of AllWriters in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Buy Links: http://www.thewildrosepress.com historical-Vintage

http://www.amazon.com/Ilona-Fridl/e/B004TSMK10/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1380291508&sr=1-2-ent

Links for me: http://www.ilonafridl.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ilona-Fridl/127297334022981?ref=hl

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3416410.Ilona_Fridl

Interview with Jo Grafford, Author of Breaking Ties: First Book in the Lost Colony Series

12bI am delighted to have my Twitter friend, Jo Grafford, with me today to chat with us about Breaking Ties: First Book in the Lost Colony Series.

Jo Grafford is from St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning author at Astraea Press, Jo writes historical fiction to spotlight unsung heroes and unsolved mysteries. She published her first poem in junior high, edited her high school newspaper while typesetting for a local news journal, and has been writing ever since.  She holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, a junior college finance instructor, and a high school business teacher. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter.  The mother of three children and the wife of a soldier, she serves as a literacy volunteer for elementary school students.

First off, Jo, thank you and your family for serving our country.

Jo, what made you decide to be an author?

I’ve been writing ever since I could hold my first crayon, but I decided to become a published author only two years ago. I was three classes short of a full certification in public school teaching, and the Army moved us. The university I attended did not have a long-distance study option, so I could either start over at a new university or spend that same next 12-15 months completing and revising my first novel. Sometimes when one door closes, another truly amazing one opens!

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?

I love the writing part best. The marketing part is another whole mountain range to climb, but I wake up each morning determined to reach the top of the next peak!

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?

Laughing, crying, loving, hurting, facing challenges, failing, and succeeding – you really don’t have anything to write about until you’ve lived a few of these things.

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?

For me, Sharon, it’s a matter of blocking out the rest of the world and escaping into that special “place.” Every writer knows what I’m talking about. It’s when you succeed in climbing inside your character’s heads and living every word you type through their eyes. You laugh when they laugh and cry when they cry.

You’ve written two novels and are working on a third. What’s your favorite time management tip?

I set goals on iCalendar and stick to them. No exceptions. Sometimes I have to pull a few all-nighters to make up for unexpected additions to the schedule. Sick kiddos, surprise visitors, major surgery, and the list goes on. When you decide that nothing can stop you from writing, then nothing will.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?

I’m a plotter. It works for me, but there’s no right way to write. Everyone just has to find what works best for them.

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?

Write every day no matter what. A writer friend once told me she could not write on a particular day, because she was so angry she would simply kill off every character. Kill them off if you must, but write anyway. You can always revise them back into existence the next day. To share a favorite quote: “You can edit garbage. You can’t edit a blank page.” –Nora Roberts

Do you have a theme song for this book? What music did you go back to over and over as you wrote it?

No theme song but music is a valuable tool for writing. I played a lot of Native American drum and pipe music as well as Elizabethan sea shanties while I wrote Breaking Ties. It really helped to set the mood for various scenes in my head.

Tell me more about Breaking Ties.

A cursed island, a chilling conspiracy, and an unforgettable love story. The 115 colonists on Roanoke Island couldn’t GPS, skype or twitter their ultimate destination back to their families and friends in 16th Century England. But modern laser technology has finally uncovered a clue – hidden beneath a patch on an ancient map at the British museum – that leads us to their whereabouts. Considered “lost” for centuries, these brave pioneers finally reveal the rest of their story in Book One of the Lost Colony Series.

Rose Payne’s world is left in tatters after a disastrous betrothal, making her an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Using every cent she has, Rose sails for the New World and a fresh start, vowing to never again fall for a wealthy man.

Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, Chief Manteo is bewitched by the fiery-haired ship’s clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – one that forces her, honor bound, to serve as a slave to his tribe – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in Breaking Ties.

How about an excerpt from Breaking Ties? BreakingTies_500x750

PREFACE

Sometimes murder isn’t as messy, up-close, and personal as many people imagine it to be. Sometimes it is distant and impersonal – as simple as crossing a line through a name on a sheet of paper. Or one hundred and fifteen names in our case.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“You want my help.” ‘Twas an accusation.

“Aye.”

His eyes darkened. “I save your life. I give gifts. I offer marriage.” He closed the remaining distance between us, his eyes burning into mine.

I stumbled back.

“You give nothing in return,” he snarled. “You only ask for more.”

“I would had I something to offer,” I whispered. “But I have nothing. I am nothing.”

“Then what use are you to me?” He wheeled away.

I sagged against the door, eyes stinging. I blinked rapidly and pressed a hand to my stomach. Nausea rolled at the thought of informing the others of my failure.

Manteo circled the cabin like a hawk stalking its prey. ‘Twas a fine room with ornately carved shelves lining one wall. Bunks were built into the next wall. A generous desk jutted from the third, overflowing with maps and navigational devices. I recognized the compass and hourglass but could not identify the other instruments. I jerked in surprise when Manteo swooped down upon me.

“I know our location.” His arms shot out and slapped the wall on either side of me, hemming me to the door. “I could swim ashore from here.”

“Then why do ye stay if ye can leave and save yourself?”

“Governor White gave his word to deliver me home.”

“We are going to starve, Manteo. ‘Tis only a matter of days now.”

“Nay. You alone starve. The others eat.”

“I have no appetite.”

“You act as one already dead.”

I straightened my back. “I accept what I cannot change.”

“And I change what I cannot accept.” He shifted his weight to the wall, one arm propped over my head. He drew his fingertips down the side of my face in a feather-light caress.

I closed my eyes against the rush of unbearable sweetness. He made me long for things forbidden. “‘Tis within your power to help us. I am begging you.”

“Very well.”

My eyes flew open. “Ye will do this for us.”

“For you.” His voice was silken, his features as hard as granite.

I smiled tremulously. “I thank thee, Manteo. Chief Manteo, that is.” The new title felt strange on my lips. I beheld him with a mixture of awe and pride.

“I have yet to name my price.”

I stared, confused.

He grunted in disgust. “You refuse me as both husband and lover, so you are left with the hiring of my services.”

I worried my lower lip between my teeth. At least he was willing to negotiate. His eyes flashed with lust as he followed my movements.

“I will entreat the Dares for payment.”

“Nay. You are the one in my debt.”

I raised and dropped my hands helplessly.

“You serve this company, no? You can serve my people, too.”

“Ye would hire me as clerk?” Hope leaped in my chest at the possibilities. I would not have to part from him so soon.

“My people have no clerks.” His eyes narrowed. “We have slaves.”

My breath hitched. “Ye wish to punish me, humiliate me?”

“Nay, I only wish to marry you.”

I briefly closed my eyes against the pain. He already knew the reason for my refusal.

“Rose.”

“Say no more. I will do it. ‘Twill be punishment enough to see you so often and—“ I clamped my lips.

Exultation flickered briefly across his face. “You would give up your freedom to save your friends?”

“Without question.”

“Swear it,” he said grimly.

“I swear it.”

His eyes flared with emotion. He bent slowly ’til his breath stirred my lips. My eyelids fluttered closed. Heaven help me, for I had no will left to resist him.

“Now you will eat,” Manteo commanded hoarsely. He stepped back, surveying me from head to feet.

“Eat?”

“I have no slaves so thin and weak. Go. Collect your rations.” He turned from me and bent to pore over a map on the table.

I reached for the door handle, disbelieving at the curt dismissal.

“And send for Anthony. I have need of him.”

I glared at his back. Faith, should I press my face to the floor as well? “Aye, master.” I bit the words out and fled.

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet? Please visit me on my web site, Facebook, or Twitter. I am currently running a Rafflecopter drawing at www.jografford.com for three Amazon and Barnes and Noble gift cards (winner’s choice of places) for $50, $25, and $15. Winners will be announced Thanksgiving Day.

Website: www.jografford.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JoGraffordAuthor

Twitter: @jografford

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00FYIYM7A

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/breaking-ties-jo-grafford/1117230076?ean=2940148412823

Jo, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.

Thank you for hosting this interview, Sharon. I look forward to meeting you in person on my next trip to Baltimore!

Book Spotlight: Cara O’Shea’s Return by Mackenzie Crowne

CaraOShaesReturn_w8160_750 (2)Mackenzie Crowne has a new book, Cara O’Shea’s Return!

After eight years of self-imposed exile, shy bombshell Cara O’Shea returns to her hometown to create her art in peace. Big city living has left her craving the quiet only a small town can offer. Bitter over the wreckage of her father’s infidelity, she risks town gossip and her heart, when she enlists the town’s football hero to help renovate her studio and mend a decade-old rift.

A career ending injury and failed marriage leave Michael “Finn” Finnegan questioning his worth and avoiding anything smacking of permanence. A playboy lifestyle soothes his battered ego, but lately, the pretense has lost its appeal. However, one look at Cara, with her expressive green eyes and bunny-of-the-month body, and he’s hell-bent on proving his worth with the shy artist—and himself.

As old truths are revealed, will Cara and Finn overcome the mistakes of the past, trust their hearts at last, and take a chance on love?

Excerpt:

“You smell great.”

She gritted her teeth. “Back off, Finnegan.”

Her attempt to put some distance between them, by pushing at his shoulder, gained no results. He held her tight.

“Lighten up, O’Shea. It was a compliment. I like your hair down.” He tilted his head to peer into her eyes as he rumbled his absurd comment. “The way you wore it last night.”

Mere inches separated her face from his and her lips tightened in annoyance. Did he actually expect her to respond to that? Stick to the plan, Cara. Ignore him. She stared blankly over his shoulder.

“All those wild curls beg a man to sink his fingers in to see if they’re as soft as they appear.”

Her mouth twitched with the need to respond. Okay, maybe someone who’d spent his life being slammed to the ground by three-hundred pound behemoths wasn’t capable of reading the subtleties of body language. He probably had his brain scrambled so often he needed verbal cues to understand not all women appreciated his brand of juvenile machismo.

“You know, Finnegan,” she spoke nonchalantly, staring straight ahead as though he didn’t bother her at all. “There are medications that can help lessen the mental complications of brain damage from repeated concussions. Someone in the front office of the NFL should be able to give you the name of a doctor who can prescribe them.”

He chuckled, and she made the mistake of shifting her eyes back to his. They twinkled with mirth above a bright, white smile. The riotous fluttering in her belly brought a slight rush of nausea. Dismayed to discover those damn butterflies weren’t dead after all, she looked away.

Was brain damage contagious?

About the Author: Mac is a wife, mother and really young grandmother. Together with her high school sweet heart husband, a neurotic Pomeranian and a blind cat, she calls Arizona home because the southwest feeds her soul. Her love of the romance genre has been a lifelong affair, both as a reader and a writer. A bout with breast cancer sharpened her resolve to see her stories shared with others. Today, she is a six-year survivor, living the dream.

Raised on the concept that a stranger is just one conversation away from being a friend, she loves meeting new people. Her friends call her Mac. She hopes you will too.

Mac’s Links:

Amazon Author Page and buy links

mackenziecrowne.com

FaceBook Author Page

Twitter @maccrowne

Goodreads

Interview with Andrea Downing, Author of Lawless Love

-¬nathandehartphotography-andreadowning copyI am delighted to have Andrea Downing, with me today to chat with us about Lawless Love

  And I’m delighted to be here, Sharon.  Thanks so much for having me.

Andrea likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK.   She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit.  Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC.  She now divides her time between the city and the shore and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming.  Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards.  Lawless Love, a short story, came out Sept. 4th as part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series.   Three more books are in various stages of progress!

Andrea, what made you decide to be an author?

You know, I don’t think you “decide” to become an author.  I think if you write, and enjoy writing, then the natural progression is to try to have that writing published, and become an author.  It’s not an occupation you ‘fall into,’ nor do you wake up one morning and say, “Gee, it would be fun to become an author.  Think I’ll try that out.”  I’ve just always written—stories, poems, essays.  So here I am.

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least? 

Actually, the answer is probably the same to both questions:  the solitary life.  I like ‘best’ being in charge of my own work, being able to arrange my day about my work the way I want, and not having to deal with interruptions should I so choose.  What I like least is being responsible for it all and not having colleagues to chat with at the water-cooler, or confer with when I have a problem.  I’ve had some great editors but they don’t come in until later so I’m talking about the initial stages here.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing? 

In so many ways!  It’s what we’ve gleaned from our lives that we put into our books, no matter what time period we write about or whether it’s paranormal or contemporary or faeries, what we see and learn each day comes out in the personalities of our characters, their little quirky traits, their thoughts, the way they appear and so on.  And the stories we relate also come from our experiences, even if they are transformed and unrecognizable.

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?

Absolutely, all the time.  My characters dictate their own dialogue, I think.  It happens with all my books J

You’ve written four novels and are working on a fifth. What’s your favorite time management tip

I have none, sorry.  Time management is in the hands of the gods with me.  Two of my books are still on an editor’s desk, the publisher dictates when a book gets out, the editor dictates edits, doctors dictate how long I spend waiting in their office and so on.  Time management is a huge headache.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?

Totally organic, though I do know the beginning and the end and have markers for the route.  I make a lot of notes and then off I go…

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be? 

Believe in yourself or no one else will.

Do you have a theme song for this book? What music did you go back to over and over as you wrote it? 

I’m a big country and western fan but I don’t play music while writing, otherwise I’d be singing along and dancing around and not getting anything done.

 Tell me more about Lawless Love. LawlessLove_w7876_300

Lacey Everhart has carved out a tough existence in the wilds of 1880s Wyoming, working hard to build a secure life for herself and her younger brother, Luke. She will stop at nothing to protect what’s hers and keep them safe. Even if it means keeping a secret that could destroy their lives.

Marshal Dylan J. Kane is a man who considers everything as black and white, right or wrong.  He’s never seen life any other way until he sets eyes on Lacey. Suddenly the straight and narrow that he’s followed has a few twists and turns. Loving Lacey offers the home life for which he hankers…but can he really love a woman who seems to be plain lawless?

How about an excerpt from Lawless Love?

 Lacey thought of fluttering her eyelashes, but it was such a silly thing to do. How could women act like that? She just looked up at the marshal and waited, the possibilities turning over in her mind, flitting through her head but never settling.

“You wanna tell me what really happened now so we can try to sort this matter? All I can do is promise I’ll do everything in my power to sort it for you, but I cain’t help you less’n you tell the truth. You tell me lies and make me look a dang fool, there’s nothin’ I can do. You understand that?”

Along with the tiniest nod, she clasped her hands together. She looked up at Dylan Kane and saw kindness in that face, a face she could so easily have loved had things been different. She could sense the heat radiating from his body and knew if she touched his chest, a strength would exist where his heart beat. If she ran her hand down his arms, she would find that same strength in his muscle. How she wanted those arms around her! All her life, it seemed, she had looked after herself, cared for her brother, struggled to make a home for the two of them. What would it have been like if Morgan had not…

“Lacey?” Dylan’s soft voice brought her back from her reveries. “You ready to tell the truth?” With one gentle finger, he lifted her chin so their gazes met for a moment before they each stepped back from the brink of something neither could control. “Lacey?” he repeated.

“Yes, I’m ready.”

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet? 

Website: http://andreadowning.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writerAndreaDowning

Twitter: @andidowning  https://twitter.com/AndiDowning

Buy Links:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Lawless-Love-Lawmen-Outlaws-ebook/dp/B00D0TB0DO

The Wild Rose Press:  http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=991&zenid=8056610c65a9d0f13b6883882eb494a6

Andrea, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.

Well, thanks again for having me here, Sharon.  I’ve enjoyed this interview immensely.

Interview with Karen Cox, Author of At the Edge of the Sea

IMG_2714I am delighted to have Karen Cox with me today to chat with us about At the Edge of the Sea.

Karen writes novels accented with history and romance. Her award-winning debut novel, 1932, is a love story set in the southern United States during the Great Depression. Her second novel, a modern romance called Find Wonder in All Things, won the 2012 Independent Book Publisher Book Award Gold medal in Romance, and was a Finalist in the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Her new novel, At the Edge of the Sea, is scheduled to be released in October, 2013, in print, Kindle and Nook formats, by Meryton Press.

Karen was born in Washington State, and after a somewhat nomadic childhood that included stints in North Dakota, Tennessee, and New York State, her family settled in their home state of Kentucky. She still lives there with her husband, son and daughter, and works as a pediatric speech-language pathologist.

Karen, what made you decide to be an author, specifically a romance author?

My childhood home was filled with books—both my parents are readers, and books were highly valued in my family. I don’t remember learning how to read, but my mother says she realized I was reading by the time I was five. One natural extension of loving to read books, was to begin writing them.

But I didn’t necessarily choose the romance genre—it sort of chose me. I was busy, like a lot of people—getting my education, working, raising my family—and I got a one-two punch from life: First, I turned 40 with all the soul-searching that entails, and a year later, my family suffered the unexpected loss of my young nephew. I read voraciously during that time to keep my mind occupied, and romance was my genre of choice because I needed stories that were life and love-affirming. As I read, I realized I had things I wanted to say to the world—about love, about families, about life—and I began telling them through stories. I’d always written short stories, pieces of novels, etc., but now I decided I was brave enough to share my writing. I’m very fortunate that a small independent press was interested enough to pick up 1932, my first published novel.

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?

My favorite thing about being a writer is when readers say they enjoy something I wrote, or that it made them think, or smile, or remember.

What I like least is promoting. I think a lot of authors feel that way; many of us are introverts at heart. I love meeting readers and talking to them about stories, but promoting a certain book isn’t a natural skill for me. I’m learning though!

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing romance?

I’ve often said I couldn’t have written this particular kind of novel when I was in my 20s or even my 30s. I needed some life behind me in order to meet the tons of people I have known, and observed the various relationships, places and events I’ve seen. I’ve worked as a speech-language pathologist in a variety of settings: hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and providing therapy to a wide age-range of people in their homes (one day, I saw a 4 week-old infant and a 94 year-old man in the same day!) That constant interaction with people really helped me find my ‘voice.’ I learned a lot about how people talk and act from my work.

Also, I’ve lived almost all my life in small towns or rural areas. That has given me an appreciation for nature and a slower pace of living that provides opportunities for observing the sensory details around me: a sunset, a hot day, the sounds of a working farm, etc.

Finally, I think the academic work required for graduate school taught me some basics about writing as a craft. Although I’ve not yet had a formal creative writing course, I learned about concise and precise writing from composing graduate level theses. Also, I often had to write when I didn’t feel like it, and that taught me some rudimentary discipline and work-ethic. There’s always more to learn though, and I’m curious enough to keep exploring new ways to write!

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?

There are portions of each novel that felt this way, but probably the closest to an ‘effortless’ write was my debut novel, 1932. I wrote the first draft in about six weeks. Of course, it was edited many times afterward, but that one seemed to roll off my fingertips. Ah, sometimes I miss those days! They’re like the first blush of being in love! 

You’ve written three novels and are working on a fourth. What’s your favorite time management tip?

Write first – then check email! It’s kind of like that analogy of putting the biggest stones in the jar first, and then fitting the smaller stones around it. Computer minutiae tend to eat up my time unless I honor my priority to write.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?

I’m a hybrid, I guess; I do a little of both. I do have a general outline: a character sketch of the main characters, a sequence of plot events, etc. I’ve used the Scribner program to organize ideas for my last two stories and liked it. But if something else occurs to me along the way, I have no problem following myself off the beaten path. I don’t write my stories in sequence either, which baffles some people. I write a skeleton version, which is mostly dialogue, and then go back to fill in settings, descriptions, exposition, and then transitions between events. It’s sort of building a story in layers, like a baking a cake, or constructing a house.

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?

It’s sometimes futile to try and slave-drive your muse, but try anyway. I used to feel like I was her servant instead of the other way around, but what I’ve found over time is if I sit down and say, ‘Girlfriend, we’re doing this today. We’re writing, and we’re not stopping until there are xxx words on the page,’ the muse will usually show up, looking hung-over and slurping on a mug of strong coffee. Then, she often warms to the task and gets with the program. Not always, of course, but over the long haul, I can get what I want out of her.

What is the theme song for this book? What music did you go back to over and over as you wrote it?

Music is actually very important to me while I’m formulating a story – how did you know, Sharon?

The theme song for At the Edge of the Sea is definitely ‘Son of Preacher Man,’ covered by several wonderful artists over the years, but typically ascribed to the late great Dusty Springfield. In fact, ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ was the story’s working title for a while. The lyrics, ‘the only boy who could ever teach me, was the son of a preacher man,’ are particularly relevant, but not in the way people might think.

Other songs from the time period were also inspiring: ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’ originally sung by Larry Williams, ‘Let It Be Me’ by the Everly Brothers, ‘Tequila’ by The Champs, ‘One Mint Julep’ by Xavier Cougat, ‘Runaway’ by Del Shannon, but also some more modern songs like ‘Sweet Surrender’ by Sarah McLaughlin, and ‘Strong Enough’ by Sheryl Crow.

Tell me more about At the Edge of the Sea.  ATEOTS14i

Okay, here’s the blurb:

Lizzy Quinlan lives in the shadow of her past…

Everyone in Orchard Hill knows Lizzy’s bad reputation and won’t let her forget it. But in the summer of 1959, Billy Ray Davenport, an itinerant minister’s son, arrives in town. He discovers an indomitable strength behind the allure his father says is ‘designed to lead men astray.’ Lizzy spouts quirky bursts of wisdom and exudes an effortless sensuality that calls to him like a siren’s song. Billy Ray thinks he could be the one who helps her swim against the tide of disapproval—he could free her once and for all.

But a stormy path awaits the unlikely pair. Lizzy’s past cannot help but shape her future, and ready or not, this beautiful, complex mystery girl is about to change Billy Ray’s life—and his heart—forever.

At the Edge of the Sea is a realistic love story told by an idealist. As society’s sands shift under his feet, Billy Ray navigates the ocean of approaching adulthood—a journey as ever-changing and ancient as the sea itself.

How about an excerpt from At the Edge of the Sea?

It would be my pleasure! Let’s see…

Lizzy and Billy Ray have just run into each other at her friend Mrs. Gardener’s house. As they walk back to their respective destinations, they share the initial part of the journey—and some interesting conversation…

***

I opened the door for Lizzy, and we went back out into the heat.

She picked up a bag sitting beside the door and drifted down the steps. She had this light, graceful way of moving that made me expect her to start floating a couple inches above the ground any second.

“I’ll walk you to your turn-off today. Cavanaugh Street is on my way back to Linden.”

She held open the gate for me, and I nodded and smiled to her as I passed. She didn’t move for several seconds, staring at me, until I turned around to face her.

“What?” I asked, walking backwards and grinning.

She looked away and shook her head, trying to hide her expression. “You really have no idea, do you?”

“About what?”

The gate banged shut behind her as she fell in step beside me. “What that smile of yours does to us girls,” she teased.

“What do you mean?”

“It melts us till we’re just puddles on the floor.”

I flushed a bright red and turned back around, walking forwards again. How was supposed to react to that?

“It’s a good thing you don’t wield that smile too often, Billy Ray. You’d be spoiled rotten with all kinds of womanly favors.”

I blushed hotter and kept walking.

“I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

“You didn’t embarrass me,” I lied.

We walked almost a block in silence.

“Why are you all dressed up today?”

“Oh, this old thing?” She laughed. “It really is an ‘old thing.’ Mrs. G found it for me at a second-hand shop. I don’t think it looks second-hand though, do you?”

I cast my eyes quickly to the side. “It’s pretty.”

“Mrs. G says it suits my figure better than Jeannie’s old dresses. Jeannie’s the oldest girl, you know, so I get a lot of her hand-me-downs.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“But Jeannie’s smaller around the chest, so her dresses don’t always fit so well. See, this one has a v-neck, and it crosses over in the front, so there’s more room.”

I picked up my pace a bit. I didn’t have much to contribute to a conversation about how girls’ clothes fit across their…

I glanced quickly at Lizzy. She wasn’t looking at me as if she was teasing though. She just as easily could have been talking about the weather or her breakfast. Suddenly, she seemed to notice I wasn’t talking anymore.

“At least, that’s what Mrs. G says.”

I kept looking at the ground in front of me as I walked.

“The shoes came with it. Are these shoes more practical than my other ones, Billy Ray?”

“Do they hurt your feet?”

“Not yet.”

“Then I guess they’re more practical.”

***

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?

Website Links:

Website:

My author blog:  www.karenmcox.merytonpress.com you can also reach the blog through www.karenmcox.com

Facebook:

Author Page:  karenmcox1932  https://www.facebook.com/karenmcox1932

At the Edge of the Sea facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/karenmcoxATEOTS

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KarenMCox1932

Buy Links: Kindle

Karen, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.

Thank you for having me, Sharon! It was a pleasure ‘talking story’ with you and your readers.

Interview with Brenda Margriet, Author of Mountain Fire

Best Crop medI am delighted to have my fellow Wild Rose Press and romantic suspense author, Brenda Margriet, with me today to chat with us about Mountain Fire.  

My first vivid memory of having written something worth reading was a short story I wrote in Grade 7 about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. I thought I was very clever and insensitively called it “Shake and Bake”…despite the fact that the plot was much more adventure romance than comedy!  Even then I was leaning towards writing what I most enjoy reading…character driven novels with a dash of adventure and a healthy dose of romance.

I spent much of my teens writing, including numerous novels that died around page 80. My very practical parents suggested a career where I might be able to use my skills while still providing a regular pay cheque, and I found myself studying Radio Broadcasting at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.  I’ve been in broadcasting every since (although I now work in television) and am still very thankful for that long ago decision, as I met my husband of 22 years at the station where I still work. And he is the main reason I have a published novel.  During the last twenty plus years I continued to pluck away at writing, but never finishing anything. Then he bought me my very own laptop for Christmas in 2010. Not having to share the family computer with our three children finally gave me the time and space to type “The End” on what would eventually be MOUNTAIN FIRE.

Brenda, what made you decide to be an author, specifically a mystery/suspense author?

I feel like I’ve always been a writer. I love putting words together, placing them in an order that is both efficient and elegant, and using exactly the right word to evoke a specific response in my readers. In my day job I am Creative Director at a small television station in Northern BC, which means I write commercials for local businesses. Most commercials are 30 seconds long…being precise and descriptive is a necessity, not a choice! But from my love of writing came the desire to see my words in print, to share them with others. And that’s what finally forced me to put my butt in a chair and my fingers on a keyboard and Get. The. Damn. Thing. Done.  As for being a mystery/suspense author, I’ve always enjoyed reading that genre myself. However, I found it very difficult to write. I knew who my bad guy was, and I didn’t want to telegraph that too soon. But how much information was too much? How could I keep secrets from my heroine and yet give hints to the reader? Is the plot suspenseful enough – or not at all? How do I decide?  All those questions kept me awake more nights than one, I’ll tell you!

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?

I love to imagine a scene, then bring it to life in black and white. It’s amazing how black squiggly marks on a page can inspire emotions ranging from boredom to passion.  I especially love when I re-read a passage I’ve written…and it still feels right.  I know a lot of writers say the least like revising, but I don’t mind the process. I like to tighten sentences, clarify actions, smooth out plot points. My biggest problem with revising is the options are endless! It can be very difficult to finally put down the pen (or laptop) and say “There. Enough.”

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing mystery?

It hasn’t! :)  And I suppose I should be happy about that, because after all, thrilling, life-threatening adventures are all well and good between the pages of a book, but they tend to be rather harrowing when actual experienced!  I think that’s why I enjoy reading/writing suspense…it’s fun to imagine yourself in the same risky situations, but who wants to experience them in real life?

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?

I can’t say that I have. There are certainly days where the words flow faster than others, where I know what happens next without having to struggle, but I’ve never had the sense of simply writing what my character is telling me to write.  They do, however, every once in a while, tell me what they wouldn’t do.  If a scene feels clunky, or awkward, it is often because I’m trying to force my character to do something that isn’t, well, in their character.

You’ve published one novel, completed a second and are working on a third. What’s your favorite time management tip?

I found my writing really started to accumulate once I’d set a daily quota for myself.  Mind you, it’s a very small quota―only 500 words.  I set aside about 1.5 hours for writing each day, but often life chips away at that. Most days I can get 500 words done in much less than my scheduled time, which frees me up to quit writing if I need to, or to keep going and build on that daily quota (for the days when I know I’ll be short). 500 words a day is 3500 words a week, which means I can have a decent length novel completed in about 5 months, and still have a life outside of writing.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?

I’m going to make up a new word.  I’m a “planster”.  I was a total pantser for MOUNTAIN FIRE, which probably contributed in part to the extremely long time it took me to finish the darn thing.  For my next two manuscripts, I’ve used my own modified version of the Snowflake Method (http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/). I follow the steps pretty closely until the Scene spreadsheet.  Then, after that, I use the spreadsheet for when I get stuck, but otherwise I just go with the flow and see where my characters take me.  I find having to decide on 70 to 100 scenes before I start writing focuses me wonderfully on the plot, but ignoring that strict outline unless I run into trouble makes my work more spontaneous and organic.

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?

To borrow from Nike:  “Just Do It”.  If you have the urge to write, sit down and write. The only way to have written something is to actually write it.  Talking, planning, studying, brainstorming, thinking―none of that is actual writing.  Only pen to paper or fingers to keyboard is writing.

What is the theme song for this book? What music did you go back to over and over as you wrote it?

While I love music, I’ve never used it as a springboard to my writing. Part of that is where I write…in my living room, with my laptop on an upside-down serving tray on top of a pillow as a makeshift lap desk. I am in a constant battle between family and writing, not wanting to sacrifice one for the other, and I find sitting where I can be found if I’m needed is a compromise we can all live with. I don’t feel like I’m ignoring anyone, and they can still be with me if they want. But the distractions of writing in a ‘public’ place are enough that I don’t need to add music to the mix. For me, it is a distraction…even as a teenager I was never one of those kids that said studying to loud music helped them concentrate.

Tell me more about Mountain FireMountainFire_W6820_750

MOUNTAIN FIRE is set in my hometown, a city of about 80,000 people in Northern British Columbia, and its surrounding wilderness. It started as more of a straight thriller, but through the years morphed into romantic suspense.

My heroine, natural resources student June Brandt, climbs Longworth Mountain for some alone time. But when Conservation Officer Alex Weaver arrives to look into the death of a grizzly bear, June is caught up in the investigation and fascinated by Alex.

Alex is attracted by June’s competence and coolness under fire as well as her lithe body and honey-blonde hair. Although their mutual interest in protecting the natural wonders of the area brings them together, they soon realize they view love from very different angles. He offers passion and pleasure, but June wants more.

When one of Alex’s colleagues is murdered, June and Alex must work together to find the poacher before other lives are lost. And Alex must look deep inside to discover if he can give June what she deserves.

How about an excerpt from Mountain Fire?

“Good god,” he whispered. “It’s my fault.”

“No!” June said urgently. “No, that’s not what I meant. Listen to me, Alex.” She broke free of his grasp and raised her hands to his cheeks, forcing him to meet her eyes. “It’s not your fault. The person to blame is the one who killed Iain. But you have to see…you have to realize…it could have been you. And the note…maybe it was supposed to be you.”

Her brilliant blue gaze held fire and courage and something else he was afraid to define. He wrapped his arms around her and held on, drawing strength from her warmth, her slender softness. That he might have unwittingly been the means of Iain’s death shook him to his core. Years of friendship and respect, blasted away by a bullet. He wasn’t sure he could bear the guilt.

“Come to me.” He murmured in her ear. “Come to me tonight.” His mouth seared a hot, moist path along her jawline. He needed her, but he realized with wonder it wasn’t simply sexual. It was also the desire for comfort and companionship, a sharing of sorrow.

The uneasiness icing his veins was consumed in the flame of passion. Unable to deny himself another taste of her, his lips met hers fiercely, grinding against her teeth until her mouth opened and their tongues twisted together, twirling, teasing. He crushed her against his body, hands sliding from buttocks to shoulders, melding her to fit him. “I need you, June.” Desperation filled him, undeniable and indefensible. “It’s your call. Your decision. But I want you so bad. I…” he faded to a stop, pressed his mouth to hers once more. “Come to me.”
Her breath trembled out. He held her so close he could see his reflection in her eyes. She nodded. “Tonight.”

Where can readers find more about your books and you on the Internet?

I am active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Good Reads.  The easiest thing to do is check out my website www.brendamargriet.com. There you’ll find all the links you need to connect with me on your favourite social media.

Brenda, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.

Book Spotlight: Healing Rain by Karen-Anne Stewart

Karen-Anne Healing Rain by Karen-Anne Stewart is the second novel in her Rain Trilogy. To tease you a bit about her new release, here are the book blurb, the excerpt and links to find this exciting series.

Blurb: Shattered when Raina runs after his marriage proposal, Kas is hell-bent to find her and bring her home, where she belongs.  He will bend every law necessary to do so, willing to do anything to protect Raina from her demons and the men who haunt her, going as far as placing his career and life on the line to save hers.  Raina will give up everything she has worked so hard to achieve, even flee the country to keep Kas from the wrath and powerful reach of her abusive father.

In the midst of the FBI team closing in on the Ghost, another ghost from Raina’s past taunts her, promising that she will be his.  Meanwhile, a different trafficking ring is gaining strength in New Jersey.  Michael solicits Raina’s help, needing her smooth, sultry voice to win the audition for the new singer in the ring leader’s swanky night club. Raina knows her life is in jeopardy with the dangers of being undercover, but she is blindsided when she discovers that it’s her heart that is threatened with a mortal blow.

Raina tries to heal from the nightmares of her dark past as the grisly bodies of innocent victims surface when the team gets closer to discovering the identity of the man responsible for the infuriatingly clever and powerful slavery ring.  When Raina finally comes face to face with the Ghost, he quickly engulfs her in a twisted game of cat and mouse, delivering a veiled threat as he slips through her fingers.  As the ghosts of her past and present ensnare her in their deadly web, Raina realizes the danger has just begun.

Healing Rain ExcerptHealingRaincover

The karaoke begins again, and Kas nudges Raina, “You should go up there.”

Mandy, Austin’s date, overhears, “You sing?”

Raina starts to shake her head no, but Kas jumps in, “The girl can sing.”

Raina shoots him a combined look of panic and disbelief at all of his outrageous encouragements tonight as Mandy, Sara, Susanna, and Maya grab at her, telling her to get her butt on stage.  She adamantly shakes her head, her cheeks flushing at their insistence.

“We’ll go with you,” Sara chimes in as she grabs her hand, but Raina doesn’t budge.

Susanna grabs her other hand, and Maya and Mandy grab her arms as Kas gives the final push, sending her to her feet.  They pull her towards the stage.  Raina steps onto the platform, the lights momentarily blinding her as she is pushed towards the microphone.  Her heart is beating wildly, feeling like it’s going to pump straight out of her chest as she stares out into the crowd of people.  In a panic, she turns to go, but the girls are in front of her, and Sara has already called out a song to the deejay.  The music starts to play, and Raina freezes.  Susanna nudges her and points to the screen, telling her to sing the words rolling across.  Raina remains quiet, motionless, and someone in the back lets out a loud yell, “Sing, or get off the stage.”

Raina is more than happy to oblige the unseen man and leave the stage, but her friends will hear nothing of it as they sing and push her to join in.  Kas stands, making his way slowly to the raised platform, all the while keeping his gaze steady and locked on hers.  He gently nods his head, encouraging her to go ahead.  She again vehemently shakes her head no, her hands shaky as she holds the microphone.  Kas mouths at her, telling her to look at him, his eyes willing her to forget everyone else, to just concentrate on him, and she softly nods.  Sara yells for the deejay to start the song again, and Kas smiles, shaking his head at the choice, a song of independence, perfect for his independent, tenacious wife.

Raina’s voice is quiet at first, beginning the song timidly.  Her eyes lock on Kas’, and he smiles, encouraging her to let go.  Her voice rises as she slowly lets herself get lost in the song.  The other girls stop singing as Raina’s sultry voice picks up, soothingly singing the slower part of the song before her voice booms just at the right second when the song’s tempo quickly picks up speed.  With every second, she gains more attention from the rowdy crowd.  People stop talking, and heads turn towards her as she belts out the chorus.

Kas fills with pride as Raina’s confidence grows, her voice sounding amazing, professional, up there on that small stage.  The whole team stares at her in bewilderment.  Seth’s jaw drops slightly as they listen.  People start to join in with her, and Raina grabs the mike, her fingers moving with the pitches as her voice belts out the song incredibly.  Once the music stops, there are loud whistles and catcalls throughout the room as Kas grabs Raina’s waist lowering her off of the stage into his arms.

“You were beyond amazing, Rain,” his praises her, his eyes overflowing with love and pride.  His body reacts violently when she blushes and looks up at him shyly.  “I’ve got one very hot, very talented wife,” he whispers in her ear, giving her a heated kiss before making himself pull away from her in the public setting.  He grabs her hand as they make their way back to the table.

All of their friends cheer as she takes her seat, and her cheeks flush a deep scarlet.  Erik pulls her off her seat into a hug, “How dare you keep something like that from me!”

Michael shakes his head, leaning towards Kas, “That girl of yours should be all wrapped up in bright yellow caution tape, tied into a pretty, little Christmas bow.”

Kas lets out a hearty laugh, “I couldn’t agree more.”

Weblinks

Website: http://www.karen-annestewart.com/

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Anne-Stewart/113779785477987

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SKarenAnne

Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6920317.Karen_Anne_Stewart

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Saving-Rain-First-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00C276VIY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1374888532&sr=1-1&keywords=saving+rain

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/healing-rain-karen-anne-stewart/1116277439?ean=9781481770484