Wednesday, September 21, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: TERRANCE COFFEY




ABOUT THE BOOK

In the year 1355 BCE, the land of Egypt was the superpower of the known world. King Tut’s father, Akenaten, the so-called 'heretic pharaoh,' is on the verge of catapulting Egypt into a revolution that will forever divide its people and rip the most powerful empire on the earth from its foundation.



INTERVIEW WITH TERRANCE COFFEY


Terrance, how did you get started writing?

I actually started writing fifteen years ago when a friend challenged me to co-write a screenplay with him. The collaboration experience gave me the confidence to do something I had never done before, and from that point on I was hooked.

Do you have a writing routine?
Before I begin writing, I like to start the morning with a 3-mile run first to get the blood flowing. It helps the ideas come faster and by the time I’m finished, I know exactly what I want to write. I’m an avid believer in outlining, because I like the idea of having a road map that will carry me from the beginning to the end of the book, and it’s what keeps me focused. I first write each chapter by hand in a notebook then write it again in MS word making necessary embellishments as I transfer it.

Do you write every day?

I try to. Half of the time I’m successful.

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
Creating a cohesive plot that never bores the reader.

What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
That the editing process would be so tortuous and engrossing.

Do you have any secret talents?
I write and sing commercial jingles.

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
The Discovery channel.

Would you make a good character in a book?
Not at all. I’m an introvert and too predictable.

What’s your favorite fast food?
Turkey tacos
.

What’s your favorite beverage?

Peach ice tea.

What is your superpower?
I have an overabundance of patience.


What do you wish you could do?

Write books faster.

What’s one thing that drives you crazy?
Selfish people.



How do you like your pizza?
Plain cheese is my favorite.



What is your favorite movie?
Citizen Kane.


What do others say about your driving?
That I drive too slow.


What are you working on now?
I’m working on the sequel to my debut novel Valley of the Kings called The 19th Dynasty and also a sci-fi thriller called Something Happened to Maggie.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


 Kindle Scout winner Terrance Coffey is an award-winning author, screenwriter, songwriter and composer with a predilection for Egyptian history. He has written numerous short stories, screenplays, television pilots, and even Coca-Cola music jingles. His debut novel Valley of the Kings: The 18th Dynasty is the 2016 International Pacific Book award-winner for Best Historical Fiction.




Connect with Terrance:


Website  |  Facebook  |  
Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon

Monday, September 19, 2016

FEATURED AUTHORS: ERIC JOSEPH & EVA GRUDIN



ABOUT THE BOOK

Save the Last Dance is a love story and cautionary tale. Brilliantly delivered through email exchanges between the two protagonists, Adam and Sarah; the novel recounts the first love of two teenagers, separated for 50 years, meeting again around a 50th high school reunion. Revisiting what brought them together and pulled them apart as adolescents; the characters revive their love and encounter obstacles imposed by history, personality and the family, colleagues and friends surrounding them. Hilariously funny, poignant, sharply cutting - the story is a lens into the souls, life-patterns, mistakes and celebrations in each character's life. It's a love story for the ages and aged." - Amazon reviewer




INTERVIEW WITH ERIC JOSEPH AND EVA GRUDIN


How did you get started writing?
In our day, we had always wanted to be writers. We rediscovered that passion for writing when we rediscovered each other. As teenagers we were constantly writing short stories and poems. Eva even remembers reading a novel Eric wrote when he was 15. Neither of us remembers what the novel was about. Something about cowboys in spaceships, most likely.

We were prompted to return to writing when we recognized the literary potential of our own reunion. We've each published articles and books in our prdofessional fields. But writing fiction has always been our dream. Granted we're late bloomers, but we believe you stay young by never thinking you're too old to revisit your dreams.

Do you write every day?
Yes, we write every day. As collaborators, though, our approach to writing is significantly different than the solo novelist's. It took two years to complete Save the Last Dance. During the first year, we were a thousand miles apart and working day jobs. We had to become disciplined about our project, if we were ever to finish it. Everyday we found time to write—during phone calls (even on the commute to work) or through emails and on Skype. When we agreed to write sections separately, we held each other to deadlines. Actually, we became so used to collaborating from separate locations that now, even though we're under the same roof, we're tempted to communicate from different rooms.

What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

If we had known at the beginning that editing the book would take more time than writing it, we wouldn't have become so impatient with the process. Writing fiction turns out to be more demanding than the kind of writing we'd done professionally. We had to get used to false starts and dead ends. We had to backtrack numerous times. Our original male lead character, for instance, was replaced after auditioning him for twenty pages. He was just too sniveling and pathetic - not enough of an s.o.b. to suit the plot.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?

Writing became delightful when we discovered the characters could take on a life of their own. No matter how sure we were about how the narrative would progress, our characters inevitably surprised us. They took us to unexpected places. Sometimes it felt as if our fingers were simply the agents of their words.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
We were both challenged when we needed to write passages in this novel about humiliations suffered at the hands of our fathers. Most of our book is fiction. These sections were not.

What’s your biggest pet peeve about writing?

As well as the collaboration worked, it irked us when the other one didn't care for a passage we'd sweated over all day. But somehow, together, we always shaped it into something better.

Did you give your characters any of your bad traits?
Yes, most definitely. We invested our characters with our anxieties, insecurities, fears, and jealousies. The book has been called "authentic" because we did not hesitate to make our characters as imperfect as we were.

What is one of your happiest moments?
For both of us, the book launch celebration at Water Street Books in Williamstown, Massachusetts was a highpoint of our lives! We were there together, reunited and well-received. Friends came from near and far. New friends were made. One in the audience said the reading was the best they'd ever heard! If you want to see how ecstatic we were, take a look at the photos on hargrovepress.com and its blog post about the book launch.

What’s one thing that drives you crazy?

It drives us crazy when people who know us insist on reading the book as a memoir and try to figure out who's who and what is "real." They can't enjoy the novel nearly as much as those who are undistracted by those questions. The events may be fiction, but the story's truthful. That's the sensible way to look at our book.

What is the most daring thing you've done?

We turned our lives upside-down to be together. Nothing we've done took more courage.

What’s your favorite color?
Eva: I don't have a favorite color, but I do have some colors, like mauve, that I really detest. I suspect Eric's favorite color is blue. Believe or not, he only wears blue, if he's allowed to dress himself.

What is your most embarrassing moment?
Eric: It's hard to choose. But I guess my most embarrassing moment was when I accidentally walked into a ladies' room at Midway airport. They all screamed. I ran out. But I wonder to this day why men don't scream when a woman accidentally wanders into the men's room.

If you had to choose a cliché about life, what would it be?
   
Since we waited until our late 60s to write a novel, I guess we'd have to say: "It's a pity that youth is wasted on the young."

What are you working on now?
We're plotting the sequel to our novel, and, at the same, preparing a series of comic essays about men as they age, titled The Prostate Monologues.



ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Eric Joseph lives in Chicago and has been a consultant and educator in health care. Much of his career has been dedicated to Native American health programs. Along the way he has authored numerous publications in his field.

Eva Ungar Grudin is an art historian who taught at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts for over forty years. In addition to her publications about art, she has written and appeared in a multi-media performance piece, Sounding to A, about inheriting the Holocaust. She is a co-founder of CounterAct, a public guerrilla performance group against racism in her native Austria.

Connect with Eric & Eva:
Website  |  
Facebook  |  
Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Hargrove Press (enter GROUP at "Apply Coupon at checkout" for a $2.00 discount)

Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: CHARLES TODD


ABOUT THE BOOK

World War I battlefield nurse Bess Crawford goes to dangerous lengths to investigate a wounded soldier’s background—and uncover his true loyalties—in this thrilling and atmospheric entry in the bestselling “vivid period mystery series” (New York Times Book Review).

At the foot of a tree shattered by shelling and gunfire, stretcher-bearers find an exhausted officer, shivering with cold and a loss of blood from several wounds. The soldier is brought to battlefield nurse Bess Crawford’s aid station, where she stabilizes him and treats his injuries before he is sent to a rear hospital. The odd thing is, the officer isn’t British—he’s French. But in a moment of anger and stress, he shouts at Bess in German.

When Bess reports the incident to Matron, her superior offers a ready explanation. The soldier is from Alsace-Lorraine, a province in the west where the tenuous border between France and Germany has continually shifted through history, most recently in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, won by the Germans. But is the wounded man Alsatian? And if he is, on which side of the war do his sympathies really lie?

Of course, Matron could be right, but Bess remains uneasy—and unconvinced. If he was a French soldier, what was he doing so far from his own lines . . . and so close to where the Germans are putting up a fierce, last-ditch fight?

When the French officer disappears in Paris, it’s up to Bess—a soldier’s daughter as well as a nurse—to find out why, even at the risk of her own life.





INTERVIEW WITH CHARLES & CAROLINE TODD


How did you get started writing?
Caroline: I don’t think it ever occurred to either of us. It happened that Charles loved many of the same things I did—movies, books, history, mysteries. My daughter was more like her engineer Dad, and grew up to be a financial advisor. She has a gift for languages, like her Mom and is a talented musician, like her aunt. Charles loves working with his hands like his Dad, and all three are good golfers. Charles and I enjoy painting. He loves the sea as much as he loves battlefields, and I’m sea sick in a bathtub. It wasn’t until Charles was an adult that his interest in words and writing showed up. If you’d asked me what the future held when he was ten, I’d have said he’d become a lawyer.

Charles: I never intended to work with my mother. What I wound up doing was working with someone I knew well and respected, and someone who found history as intriguing as I did.  I think the main thing that has come of this collaboration is getting to know each other as adults. We can argue, we can discuss the books, we can even yell at each other and it isn’t personal, it’s professional. What’s helpful is that our minds work a lot alike. But it could just as easily have been my sister who inherited that sort of mind. Since she didn’t and I did, I’m here working a 12-hour day, and she’s having a great time telling people how to invest their money. 

Caroline: I think I brought it up first, after a visit to a battlefield where we had fun reconstructing the action and talking about what ifs. Charles wasn’t particularly interested just then, and I was busy with other things. But then he found himself on the road with his day job, and that meant time on his hands. Even so, nothing would have happened if we hadn’t both had computers.  That made long-distance collaboration possible.

Charles: I was busy with my own life, so another project seemed to be out of the question. But once I was on the road as a corporate troubleshooter, I was glad of something to do in the evenings beside watching TV or running up the phone bills calling home. I think the biggest problem we have is that we can’t work in the same room. I don’t know whether this is because we didn’t start out that way or because we get more done when we are not together. When I’m at home, or Caroline is visiting me, we work in different rooms on the computer or the phone.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
Caroline: We enjoy our real strength that comes from having so much in common—trips to England, reading the same books, seeing the same films, liking suspense so much. That matters, because we can see eye to eye even when we disagree.  I’d have thought that being male and female might have made a difference that I’d see women better and Charles would see men more clearly.  But when it comes to characters, we both seem to visualize them equally well.  I expected Charles to write action scenes for the books while I’d work on motives.  As it turned out, we both had an equally good grip on action and motive.  I do spell better than Charles, while he’s far more computer savvy.  

Charles: I think the main gift of our process is the way we sort of spur each other on. I think the main weakness may be that we’re so much alike. So it’s what we do when we aren’t collaborating that is important in keeping a fresh eye. Caroline loves to travel.  She and my Dad have enjoyed seeing the world together. I like the beach, sitting there watching the waves and an occasional skimmer passing by. The list goes on, and from these differences come threads for storylines that expand a plot or characters we might not have created otherwise.  Caroline and I both have a sense of humor, which is important. But we also have a sense of the ridiculous and that keeps us on an even keel. And we’ve always argued over Trivia. I love it when I’m write and she’s wrong.

Do you have a writing routine?
We never had a manual to help us learn how to collaborate. We sort of worked it out along the way. And what made the most sense was, of all things, consensus. We talk out the first chapter, who’s in it, what it has to say, where it will take us. And we write that down.  Next we face the second chapter, who’s going to be there, what it has to say, and where it’s going.  It’s the way we began, and we discovered that it worked, so we have used that as our method ever since. Remember, we both do research and share it, we both go to England and explore, and we both know our characters well, so it isn’t so surprising that consensus works better than outlining or swapping chapters.

You could say we don’t have a routine per se.

Do you write every day?
We never stop writing no matter where we are and what we are doing. You come up with new ideas everywhere from laying in a CAT scan machine to a train ride to a conference. With each new revelation we can’t wait to tell the other what we thought. The only drawback is staying focused on the work at hand!

What do you wish you’d done differently when you first started the publishing process?
Nothing! Any author is so surprised when an editor calls to ask if a manuscript is for sale. Any prepared reaction goes out the window and you only hope you are coherent. Our main hope is that Rutledge and Bess continue to thrive and we are able to explore opportunities in our stand alone books and short stories. We hope we learned from our mistakes and are always thrilled to be a part of the Harper/Morrow family.

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
Staying focused and seeing the manuscript through to the end is a challenge. We both love research and spending time “on location.” At a certain point we have to get down to work. But, the hardest part is putting the “pen” down and sending the manuscript to the editor. We have come to know and care about our characters and don’t want to say good bye. Often we will bring a character back in another work to visit and catch up on things. In The Shattered Tree we do that with Captain Barkley.

What’s more important—characters or plot?
The characters make the plot. We start out with the first chapter and then let the characters guide us through the possibilities that create the solution to the plot.

How often do you read?
Not enough! We read often for a variety of reasons. The sheer pleasure of reading the work of our friends/authors give us hours of pleasure and insight in their thought process. Writing is a craft that we have learned as apprentices through reading! We also read for research and travel guides that help us understand the “lay of the land” and the history of each location.

What is your writing style?

In the case of Bess and Ian we intentionally chose a time before sophisticated forensics. Both characters in their own way must solve the puzzle through wit, determination, and an understanding of people’s personalities and interactions. We love the suspense of the chase to resolve the plot often in the nick of time.


What do you think makes a good story?
A bit of everything. Primarily characters the reader (us included) care about. They don’t always have to be good or bad. When we write we often ask ourselves; is this person relevant to the story and what do they contribute. Whether as a writer or a reader the question must be do I want to spend my time hearing or seeing who this person is and why should I care. Characters are also a part of the scene. A clothing designer is fascinating in Paris and not so much a fishing village in Cornwall.

Is this an interesting location or does the author make the place interesting for me? I may not care about the seedy side of town in some city. But, if the story is such that is the only real place it can be told I become interested.

Finally, whether a mystery or some other genre, is the book satisfying in the end? By that we don’t mean does it end happily ever after. Does this book move me? It may be disturbing, tragic; often times it is simply a good story that made me feel various emotions resulting in a final feeling of “well done.”

What books do you currently have published?

Our latest Bess Crawford novel is The Shattered Tree (August 2016 Harper Collins/Morrow) and the eight in the series.

No Shred of Evidence (January 2016 Harper Collins/Morrow) is the eighteenth in the Inspector Rutledge series.

We also have some standalone titles and many short stories that have been published as well.


What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Keep trying. Finish a book and start another published or not. We knew that then and always tell future authors the same. We are both stubborn which is good and bad as collaborators. It is an excellent quality along with patience for us,

Is writing your dream job?
We love what we do. In the back of our minds there are always plot ideas we keep filed away if either of us decide to do something different. Writers have an incurable infection with their trade.


What is the worst job you’ve ever had? What did it teach you?
When you think you have the worst job in the world you get another one that makes you long for the past. No matter how trivial or degrading a task may be there is always the satisfaction in doing a job well and finishing. We never think that something is beneath us to do.

Do you have any marketing tips you could pass on to indie authors?

Get out there. Join writing organizations, get involved in your local library. Visit and get to know your area bookstore owners and staff. Do not be unwilling to volunteer your time and talent! No one ever became an author or attained success by waiting for the phone to ring. No matter what all the electronic/digital media may do to help you face to face time and word of mouth is the best advertising there is!

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
Public Television without hesitation.

How often do you tweet?
We do not tweet yet. We are thinking about it.

How do you feel about Facebook?
Daily! It is a means of keeping up with friends and fans. We enjoy hearing the stories and sharing the life experiences of our many Facebook friends.

For what would you like to be remembered?
Inspiring other authors and being good at what we do.

What scares you the most?
Time. There never seems to be enough of it. Yet, we never have time to be bored!

Would either of you make a good character in a book?
That would be a strange book for both of us!

What five things would you never want to live without?
Books and more books. Well, books too, along with books and books especially!

What’s one thing you never leave the house without?
Pen and paper.

What do you love about where you live?
Caroline: I love the rolling hills and horse country along with major cities nearby to visit!
Charles: The ocean!


What’s your favorite thing to do on date night?
Libraries, art shows, travel family, and friends and many more.

What's your favorite treat for movie night?
Caroline: Popcorn and chocolate milkshakes.
Charles: Soft pretzels.

What’s your favorite fast food?
Wendy’s for Caroline, Dairy Queen for Charles.


What’s your favorite beverage?
Chocolate Milk for Caroline, Tonic water and pink grapefruit juice for Charles.

What drives you crazy?
Ignorance.

What is your superpower?
Our memory even though we don’t always agree!

Name one thing you’re really good at and one thing you’re really bad at.
Caroline: Memory, understanding people, and motives. Cannot/will not do outlining.
Charles: Cooking, visual memory, and people. Horrible working on cars.


What do you wish you could do?
Have more time.

What is one of your happiest moments?

Being with family and friends.

Where is your favorite place to visit?
England.

What would you name your autobiography?
Are you Kidding Me!

What’s your least favorite chore?
Caroline: Pulling weeds, they grow back!
Charles: Both of us hate changing litter boxes, it smells!


Would you rather be a movie star, sports star, or rock star?
Movie star for both.

Do you procrastinate?
Often!

What’s one thing that drives you crazy?
Waiting, wasting time!

What’s your favorite Internet site?
Google.

What’s in your refrigerator right now?
The usual. Fruit and fresh veggies and a few southern delicacies.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
Caroline: Visiting the far reaching corners of the globe.
Charles: Windsurfing.

What is your most embarrassing moment?
Being on stage talking about our books and losing our train of thought!

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
"There but for the grace of God go I."

What would your main character say about you?
That is a new one. We have never really thought about that. Complicated and yet realistic?

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
At the end of A Fine Summers Day sending Rutledge off to war. We knew what lay instore for him in A Test of Wills.


Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
Our first library is always a favorite even though we love many of the grand libraries we have visited. We love the smell of books, the way they feel in our hands, turning pages gently in an old and well-read book!


Who is your favorite fictional character?
Caroline: Miss Marple as an example of my many favorite characters.
Charles: Hercule Poriot as an example of my many favorite characters.

If you had a talk show who would your dream guests be?
That would be a very long list. As readers and history students the list would be endless. We just hope we could be as good as Charlie Rose with a bit of Lipton thrown in.


What’s one thing that very few people know about you?
We like silly movies like the Lavender Hill Mob and The Pink Panther!


You have a personal chef for the night. What would you ask him to prepare?
Caroline: Charles is a trained professional chef from his prior career so I get that every time we visit!
Charles: I don’t care as long as I don’t have to do the dishes!


How do you like your pizza?
Caroline: We both like pepperoni and mushroom with traditional hand tossed crust or whatever Charles is making!


What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
Caroline: Cats.
Charles: The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
.

Do you have any hidden talents?
We both love to paint and draw. Our ability to express things in doodles is important in our communication!

What’s your favorite type of music?

We both have varied tastes from classical to modern. Caroline enjoys Celtic music, and I love bluegrass.


What’s your biggest pet peeve about writing?
Spelling and grammar.


What would you do for a Klondike bar?

Kill a character.

What is your favorite movie?
Caroline: Of the many Lawrence of Arabia.
Charles: One would be Rogue Male.


Do you have a favorite book?
That is not really fair to ask:
Caroline: Day of the Jackel.
Charles: A Prayer for the Dying.


If you had to choose a cliché about life, what would it be?

It beats the alternative.


What are you working on now?
Bess Crawford number nine A Causality of War.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother-and-son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.
Charles and Caroline have a rich storytelling heritage. Both spent many evenings on the porch listening to their fathers and grandfathers reminisce. And a maternal grandmother told marvelous ghost stories. This tradition allows them to write with passion about events before their own time. And an uncle/great-uncle who served as a flyer in WWI aroused an early interest in the Great War.

Charles learned the rich history of Britain, including the legends of King Arthur, William Wallace, and other heroes, as a child. Books on Nelson and by Winston Churchill were always at hand. Their many trips to England gave them the opportunity to spend time in villages and the countryside, where there’a different viewpoint from that of the large cities. Their travels are at the heart of the series they began ten years ago.

Charles’s love of history led him to a study of some of the wars that shape it: the American Civil War, WWI and WWII. He enjoys all things nautical, has an international collection of seashells, and has sailed most of his life. Golf is still a hobby that can be both friend and foe. And sports in general are enthusiasms. Charles had a career as a business consultant. This experience gave him an understanding of going to troubled places where no one was glad to see him arrive. This was excellent training for Rutledge’s reception as he tries to find a killer in spite of local resistance.

Caroline has always been a great reader and enjoyed reading aloud, especially poetry that told a story. The Highwayman was one of her early favorites. Her wars are WWI, the Boer War, and the English Civil War, with a sneaking appreciation of the Wars of the Roses as well. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling the world, gardening, or painting in oils. Her background in international affairs backs up her interest in world events, and she’s also a sports fan, an enthusiastic follower of her favorite teams in baseball and pro football. She loves the sea, but is a poor sailor. (Charles inherited his iron stomach from his father.) Still, she has never met a beach she didn’t like.

Both Caroline and Charles share a love of animals, and family pets have always been rescues. There was once a lizard named Schnickelfritz. Don’t ask.

Writing together is a challenge, and both enjoy giving the other a hard time. The famous quote is that in revenge, Charles crashes Caroline’s computer, and Caroline crashes his parties. Will they survive to write more novels together? Stay tuned! Their father/husband is holding the bets.

Connect with Charles and Caroline:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:
HarperCollins   |  Amazon  |  B&N




Monday, September 12, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: MOLLIE COX BRYAN




ABOUT THE BOOK

For thirty-something blogger Cora Chevalier, small-town Indigo Gap, North Carolina, seems like the perfect place to reinvent her life. Shedding a stressful past as a counselor for a women’s shelter, Cora is pouring all her talents—and most of her savings—into a craft retreat business, with help from close pal and resident potter Jane Starr. Between transforming her Victorian estate into a crafter’s paradise and babysitting Jane’s daughter, the new entrepreneur has no time for distractions. Especially rumors about the murder of a local school librarian . . .

But when Jane’s fingerprints match those found at the grisly crime scene, Cora not only worries about her friend, but her own reputation. With angry townsfolk eager for justice and both Jane’s innocence and the retreat at risk, she must rely on her creative chops to unlace the truth behind the beloved librarian’s disturbing demise. Because if the killer’s patterns aren’t pinned, Cora’s handiwork could end up in stitches . . .







INTERVIEW WITH MOLLIE COX BRYAN


Mollie, how did you get started writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. I wrote my first novel when I was 12; finished my second novel at 18.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
Creating new stories.

Do you have a writing routine?
I write every day from 4 a.m to 6 a.m when I'm writing—sometimes I'm in edits or something and so I'll be revising or what ever during that time.

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
Finishing the book is very hard for me. I think I’m getting better at endings. But knowing when to stop and exactly how to end it has been very challenging for me.

How often do you read?
Everyday!

What books do you currently have published?
There are five books in the Cumberland Creek series, plus two e-novellas. Plus I have two cookbooks out. And my historical fiction, just released this year—Memory of Light: An Aftermath of Gettysburg. 


Is writing your dream job?
Absolutely! It’s such a tough business that if I didn’t love writing so much, I’d have quit by now. 


How often do you tweet?
Usually twice a day.

How do you feel about Facebook?
I love Facebook and the community there. It can be a bit distracting, so I do limit myself.

For what would you like to be remembered?
For being a good mom.

What scares you the most?
Something terrible happening to my daughters.

Would you make a good character in a book?
No. All I do is sit in front of a computer most days and run my daughters around. Bor-ing!

What five things would you never want to live without?
Indoor plumbing.
Heat and AC.
A good pair of running shoes.
My computer.
Books.

What’s one thing you never leave the house without.My driver’s license.

What do you love about where you live?
The Shenandoah Valley is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.


What’s your favorite thing to do on date night?
My husband and I love to haunt second-hand bookstores and then grab a bite.

What’s your favorite fast food?
Pizza.


What’s your favorite beverage?

Diet cherry limeade.

What drives you crazy?

Rudeness.


Name one thing you’re really good at and one thing you’re really bad at.
I hope I’m good at writing. And I am a bad housekeeper. True story. 


What do you wish you could do?

Hire a housekeeper!

What is one of your happiest moments?
Definitely when my girls were born!

What are you working on now?
I’m at work on Macrame Murder, the third book in the Cora Crafts Mysteries.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Mollie Cox Bryan, author of the Cora Crafts Mysteries and the Agatha Award-nominated Cumberland Creek mystery series, is also an award-winning journalist and poet. She currently writes and crafts in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband and two daughters. Please visit her at molliecoxbryan.com, where you can sign up for her exclusive newsletter. For scrapbooking, recipes, and other crafty-freebies, join her on Pinterest.



Connect with Mollie:
Website  |  Blog  |  
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Saturday, September 10, 2016

BEYOND DEAD BLOG TOUR



ABOUT THE BOOK

Dead less than twenty-four hours, with a job that doesn’t pay, a fashion disaster for a uniform and more afterlife rules than she can shake a stick at, Bridget Sway thinks it’s as bad as it can get. And then she finds a dead ghost stuffed in her locker.
Since the police are desperate to arrest her for murder, Bridget’s new best friend convinces her the only way to save herself from an eternity in prison is to solve the murder themselves.
With a handsome parole officer watching her every move, an outlaw ghost befriending her and two persistent mediums demanding her attention, solving the murder is not quite as easy as it sounds. And when “murder” turns into “murders” Bridget needs to solve the case . . . before she becomes the next dead body stuffed in her locker.


GUEST POST BY JORDAINA SYDNEY


Hi everyone. I’m Jordaina, and I write paranormal cozy mysteries.

Amy was kind enough to let me do a guest post on her blog today, and since being a writer automatically makes me an avid reader, I thought that I might share some of my all time favourite books today. Maybe you haven’t read them and you’ll leave with some recommendations. If you have some recommendations for me then drop them in the comments.

1.    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This has been one of my favourite books since I read it in high school. I think because it’s told from the perspective of Scout (a little girl) it really highlights the craziness of adult prejudices. As a child she doesn’t understand a lot of what is happening and I always find it so refreshing to read. It’s so easy to get lost in your own biases that this always gives me a little mental shake. It also helps that it’s beautifully written.

2.    The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. I first read this book in my early twenties when I was still really finding my writing feet. I’d been writing for a long time before I read it and had just finished the millionth draft of my first novel. I was working as a stockroom assistant in a dress shop at the time and I would always make sure I had a book with me because the manageress was always late. I was sitting outside the shop, first thing in the morning, and I’d just gotten to the part of the book where *spoiler alert* Prof Challenger and his group were about to ascend to “The Plateau.” I remember getting so excited—not for the characters or for what was coming next—for Arthur Conan Doyle because this was the point he could let his imagination run wild. He was the one who decided what Challenger would find, what would happen, how it would end. Even now, I vividly remember that moment and despite the fact that I had already been writing for a long time, that was the moment I knew for sure that I was a writer.

3.    The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. I remember my mum reading this to me when I was really small and being fascinated by it. Wizards, dwarfs, hobbits, dragons. What child isn’t going to be fascinated by that? It’s still one of my favourite books and though I like The Lord of the Rings just fine it’ll never be The Hobbit.

4.    Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews. I can’t remember how I came across this series but I’ve been a fan since the first page or so. The heroine is strong and flawed which makes her lovable (to me at least). I think this series is on book eight now and the reason it still captivates me is because the characters grow. They aren’t the same people from the first book—they’re changed by their experiences but not so much you can’t recognise them. There are so many series that are eight books or more in and everything is still the same. Though you don’t want the series to change radically but it is nice to see the characters you've invested in grow. Nothing makes me lose interest faster than a series which is basically the same thing over and again.

5.    The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. This is another series (or trilogy) that I read when I was much younger and just captivated me. I think it was the depth of the characters. I was rooting for the Fool the whole time. That was my favourite character. I still get a bit of a lump in my throat when I think about it. The world Hobb created just blew me away. There are at least three others trilogies that are linked to this and there’s some character cross over but this was the one that stole my heart.

Okay, so those are my top five books. I’ve haven’t included any cozy mysteries on this list simply because, when I thought about it, I couldn’t pick just five. Every one I thought of reminded me of at least another five and my list was getting far too long. That said, if any of you have any recommendations please drop them in the comments and I’ll check them out.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jordaina Sydney Robinson grew up and, despite many adventures further afield, still lives in the North West of England. For fun she buys notebooks, gets walked by her husky puppy and sings really loudly and really badly while driving her trusty old Seat, Roger. If you want to find out just how bad her singing is then you can visit her official website and ask her.

Connect with Jordaina:
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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

GUEST POST BY HEATHER HAVEN



ABOUT THE BOOK

Lee Alvarez takes a job ferreting out the saboteur of a start-up company’s Initial Public Offering in the heart of Silicon Valley. Little does she know early one morning she will find the CEO hanging by the neck in the boardroom wearing nothing but his baby blue boxers. Was it suicide? Or was it one of the many people who loathed the man on sight, including his famous rock singer ex? Enter the world’s scariest drug, Devil’s Breath, and the bodies start piling up all the while she’s planning her very own Christmas wedding. Ho, ho, ho.





GUEST POST BY HEATHER HAVEN


The first book I remember reading was Uncle Remus, when I was six or seven. When I turned nine, I hop scotched to the public library and checked out Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock.

My life was changed forever. I not only fell in love with reading, big time, I fell in love with mysteries and writing. It’s a love affair that has never waned. I went to college on a costume scholarship, studied drama then went to NYC to become an actress. I hated it. I hated the life of an actor. It wasn’t for me. All that traveling! Living out of a suitcase! Who needs it?

However, I discovered I loved writing. I could sit in a room and write for hours, send characters to the far corners of the earth, and not have to leave my chair. To make money, I worked in advertising for a while, wrote short stories, one-act plays, ad copy, and nightclub acts for performers. I loved it.

I didn’t tackle writing a novel until I came to California, wine country. Chardonnay helped tamp down any jitters I had about taking on 75 thousand words and hoping somebody would read them. Now I write 85 thousand words and still hope somebody reads them.
Essentially, I love the written word. For example, there’s nothing I admire more than someone who writes beautiful imagery that stirs the heart. Remember Don McLean’s "Vincent" (Starry, Starry Night)? The lyrics are absolutely gorgeous. Add that beautiful, haunting music and you have something memorable. If Vincent Van Gogh looks down from time to time, I believe he knows he did something right to evoke such a wondrous song.

My favorite author may surprise you, me being a mystery writer. It’s P.G. Wodehouse. No matter how many times I read Right Ho, Jeeves! it makes me laugh. I have read every book of his I can get my hands on and he wrote over 90. He’s most famous for the Jeeves and Bertie Wooster collection of short stories and books, but he was a prolific writer of screenplays, plays, novels, short stories, pretty much anything. I’m a big fan.

Of course, there’s Agatha Christie, the queen of the mystery, the plot maker. She’s the one who made crime writing all warm and fuzzy. Let’s not forget Janet Evanovitz, who turned it all into a wonderfully, funny game.

I developed the protagonist of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Lee Alvarez, because I wanted to have a central character that was identifiable but different, off-kilter, and likable. Lee’s not your typical protagonist. She’s smart, talented, and loves dancing, shoes, handbags, and a good joke. She knows her own worth but, like all of us, has her moments of self-doubts. They seem to hit her when least expected. It makes for some funny moments in the books.

The Alvarez Family owns Discretionary Inquiries, a Silicon Valley investigative agency dealing in the theft of software, hardware, and Intellectual Property. Dead bodies are not in Lee’s job description, but they seem to crop up, especially when she isn’t looking. But as she chases down a new suspect, she strives to be a better person, knowing nobody’s perfect. Except maybe her mother, Lila-Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day Hamilton Alvarez, she who can chill a glass of chardonnay at a single glance. Try living in that woman’s designer-clad shadow all your life.

I’ve tried to create a real, California-honed, reluctant PI in Lee, who wears Vera Wang clothes, while cheering on Humphrey Bogart. She reads Dashiell Hammett detective stories or watches old black and white movies on TV, while searching the web or her iPhone. She loves peanuts and a good, classic martini—gin, vermouth, orange bitters, and 3 olives. And served icy cold, please, straight up!

The humor is sparkly, the characters real but slightly larger than life. Most importantly, I try to keep it positive. I wanted The Alvarez Family to like each other, even if they don’t always ‘get’ each other.

On a personal note, I read so many books where protagonists are antagonistic and nasty to the people they profess to love. How can the reader like them or root for people that dysfunctional? I can’t. I try to write a world I’d like to live in, a family I’d like to live with. Or should I say, with whom I’d like to live. Better grammar.

The latest book of the series, Book Five, is The CEO Came DOA. The subject matter forced me to do a lot of research about the world of startups in Silicon Valley. And I thought writers were crazy!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After studying drama at the University of Miami in Florida, Heather went to Manhattan to pursue a career. There she wrote short stories, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and two one-act plays, which were produced, among other places, at the famed Playwrights Horizon. Once, she even ghostwrote a book on how to run an employment agency. She was unemployed at the time.

Her first novel started the Silicon Valley based Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series. Murder is a Family Business, Book One, won the Single Titles Reviewers’ Choice Award 2011, followed by the second, A Wedding to Die For, 2012 Global and EPIC finalist for Best eBook Mystery of the Year. Death Runs in the Family won the coveted Global Gold for Best Mystery Novel, 2013. DEAD . . . If Only won the Global Silver for Best Mystery Novel, 2015. Her fifth novel of the series, The CEO Came DOA, debuts September, 2016. She loves writing this series mainly because she gets to play all of the characters, including the cat!

Heather’s other series, The Persephone Cole Vintage Mystery Series, is set in Manhattan circa 1942, during our country’s entrance into WWII. The Dagger Before Me, Book One, was voted best historical and mystery novel by Amazon readers in October, 2013.  It was followed by Iced Diamonds. Book Three, The Chocolate Kiss-Off, is a 2016 Lefty Award Finalist Best Historical Mystery.

On a personal note, her proudest award is the Silver IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) Best Mystery/thriller 2014 for Death of a Clown. The stand-alone noir mystery is steeped in Heather’s family history. Daughter of real-life Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus folk, her mother was a trapeze artist/performer and father, an elephant trainer. Heather likes to say she brings the daily existence of the Big Top to life during World War II, embellished by her own murderous imagination.

Heather gives lectures, speaks at book clubs, and moderates author panels in the Bay Area, as well as teaching the art of writing. She believes everyone should write something, be it a poem, short story or letter. Then go out and plant a tree. The world will be a better place for it.

Connect with Heather:
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Buy the book:
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Monday, September 5, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: JENNIE MARSLAND



ABOUT THE BOOK

When Rochelle McShannon moves with her father from Morgan County, Georgia to the Yorkshire Dales, she thinks she’s leaving behind everything that matters to her. Her mother has passed away, her twin brother is going west to avoid the looming Civil War, and her family’s unpopular views on slavery and secession have destroyed her relationship with the man she hoped to marry. If returning to her father's childhood home eases his grief, Chelle asks for nothing more.



Martin Rainnie understands grief. Since the loss of his wife in childbirth, he’s known little else, except anger. He’s retreated to his farm and turned his back on the world, including his baby daughter, who’s being fostered by Chelle’s relatives. With little Leah drawing them together, Martin begins to wonder if he can love again—and convince Chelle to do the same.



But the war overseas has far-reaching consequences, even in a small English village. Can Martin and Chelle overcome danger, loss, and bitterness to make a home where the heart is?


INTERVIEW WITH JENNIE MARSLAND


Jennie, how did you get started writing?

I started writing when I was very young, eight or nine years old. I just felt the need to tell stories. By the time I was twelve, I had a binder full of short stories and poetry. Then, in a fit of adolescent angst, I decided it was all trash and threw it away. A few years went by, and I started again. I kept writing short pieces, but never dreamed I’d write a novel—until I did.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
Getting a fresh new idea and plunging in, excited about the characters and the story. Middles are the most difficult part of writing for me. Plot becomes complicated, and as a pantser, I sometimes write myself into a dead end. When that happens I just have to trust that I’ll find my way out, but it isn’t easy.

What do you wish you’d done differently when you first started the publishing process?
I wish I had been more patient and done more research before submitting my first book. On my first attempt, a small independent publisher accepted my book the day after I sent it, which should have been a red flag. The company folded before the book could be published. The next small publisher I tried published the book and then closed under suspicious circumstances, leaving authors unpaid. I could have saved myself a lot of anguish by being more selective.

Boy, have I been there, done that! (See my blog post on that subject.) What’s more important—characters or plot?
All of my books are character-driven. The plot arises from the strengths and weaknesses of the characters. How do they change? How do they need to grow to achieve a happy ending? And I insist on happy endings.

What books do you currently have published?
Where The Heart Is, my upcoming release from Tirgearr Publishing, will be out on September 7. It’s the first in a series called Choices of the Heart. I have a soft spot for Martin because he’s a talented musician. My partner is also a musician—we met when I signed up to take guitar lessons from him. When he stopped charging me for the lessons, I knew I was in trouble.

The second book in the series, now under consideration by Tirgearr, features Chelle’s twin brother Trey, who lands in Colorado after the Civil War. I grew up reading my father’s Westerns, so the setting came naturally.

I have three other books currently in print, titled Shattered, Deliverance, and Flight. These books make up my Winds of War, Winds of Change series. They’re based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, my hometown, during and after the Great War. Many people aren’t aware that the greatest explosion prior to the atomic bomb took place on Halifax Harbour on December 6, 1917, when a ship loaded with explosives collided with another ship and blew up. Half the city was destroyed. It was one of the major disasters of the twentieth century. Shattered and Deliverance are set at the time of the explosion, while Flight takes place later.

What’s the oldest thing you own and still use?
I love old things. Probably the oldest item I have is a small silver box that belonged to my grandmother. It’s similar to boxes that were sent to soldiers as gifts during the Great War, so it may have been used for that purpose. I use it to hold a few pieces of jewelry.

Is writing your dream job?

Definitely. It isn’t always easy, but there’s nothing else I’d rather do. I can’t survive without a creative outlet. I’ve heard it said that if you can stop writing, you should, but I’ve never been able to stop.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had? What did it teach you?
Ten years ago, I lost my job as a high school teacher because I’d developed a hearing problem. Feeling scared and desperate, I took a job selling insurance, even though I knew it wasn’t really a good fit for me. It was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. I learned that no matter how bad things look, it’s vital to stay true to yourself.

What do you love about where you live?
I love Halifax for its rich history—it’s one of Canada’s oldest cities, and it’s been a military port and seat of government since its inception. Then there’s the explosion, with its stories of tragedy and heroism. Then, Nova Scotia is just plain beautiful and the people are just plain nice.

What’s your favorite fast food?
Sushi, bar none. I love the stuff.




What are you working on now?
I’m working on book 3 in the Choices of the Heart series. It doesn’t have a title yet. It features a character from the second book that readers have told me intrigues them.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Jennie Marsland is a teacher, an amateur musician, and for over thirty years, a writer. She fell in love with words at a very early age, and the affair has been life-long.

Jennie grew up reading Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey. She still has a soft spot for Westerns, and she draws further inspiration from her roots in rural Nova Scotia and stories of earlier times, passed down from her parents and grandparents. Glimpses of the past spark her imagination.

Jennie lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband and their two rambunctious Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, Ceilidh and Echo. When she isn't teaching or writing, Jennie plays guitar, dabbles in watercolours, gardens, and caters to the whims of the four-footed tyrants of the household.




Connect with Jennie:
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Buy the book:
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