Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Interview with young adult author Allie Burton

Today’s guest is young adult author Allie Burton to tell us a bit about herself and her novel Soul Slam.

Allie will be giving away a $50 Amazon (or BN) gift card to a lucky commenter (who uses the form below). If you’d like to increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops and enter there, too! 

Allie didn’t realize having so many jobs would become great research material for the stories she writes. She has been everything from a fitting room attendant to a bike police officer to a professional mascot escort. She has lived on three continents and in four states and has studied art, fashion design, marine biology, and advertising.

When her kids asked, “when are you going to write a story we can read?” she switched from adult novels to Young Adult and Middle Grade and hasn’t looked back.

Allie is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Romance Writers of America including the Young Adult, Dallas Area Romance Writers and Heart of the Rockies chapters. She is also a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Currently, she lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.

Welcome, Allie. Please tell us about your current release:
A sixteen-year-old on her first heist to steal an ancient Egyptian amulet inadvertently receives the soul of King Tut…and the deadly curse that comes with it.
And Olivia is not alone at the museum.
A member of a secret Society, Xander believes it is his place to inherit King Tut’s soul and justly rule. He knows nothing about the society’s evil plan to control the world or the curse. Now, he must deal with the female imposter who stole the amulet.

Xander convinces Olivia they must form a temporary partnership. The two teens develop a connection, and together they must figure out how to end the curse before it turns deadly. On the run, unable to touch because of the curse, and dealing with a male soul inside her female body, Olivia must learn to trust Xander.

As the mystery surrounding the amulet unfolds, Olivia and Xander start to fall for each other. But is love enough to save them and the world from destruction?

(from Chapter Twenty-Seven)

My spot of defiance hadn’t stopped him. My elation plummeted like my spit. X now had the final ingredient.

Smoke rose from the cup. Colors swirled, mixing and combining like a wacky rainbow. My gaze followed the motion unwillingly entranced. I couldn’t take my gaze off of this creation. The contents glowed with a strange aura.

A light flashed sending a bolt of lightning through the room. I flinched from the heat.

The goons’ hold loosened. X watched with an awed expression on his face.

A sphere formed in the cup. Colors of red and blue and yellow shaped the orb. The colors flamed and burned into a bright yellow. The shiny ball rose on a layer of smoke like the sun on a cloudy day.

I’d never seen anything so fantastical. I held my breath as the orb rose above the alabaster cup and floated like a balloon.

X stepped toward the globe. “Did you know glass was first developed around the time of King Tut’s reign?” He angled his head examining the glass globe of sun. “The golden glass will act like a controller.”

“You can’t control a king.” Or a pharaoh. Or me.

“While I was promised to host King Tut, the conditions weren’t right the year I turned sixteen.” X’s voice grew bitter. His eyebrows came together in a straight line mourning the loss of his own power. “The Society didn’t even read the chant, already knowing through advances in science that an eclipse would not happen on the summer solstice of that year. I became a regular person, just another man in the Society.”

Having the power had been cool, but not if I couldn’t control it. Not if I couldn’t touch the people I loved. Xander’s name whispered through my chest.

“I was promised the soul and the power but never told about the burn out until later.” X’s voice rose higher, angrier. “The Society betrayed me, betrayed every Xander throughout the centuries.”

“Then why are you doing this to me?”

Is your life anything like it was two years ago?
Yes. I still have to reach my word count every day. Now there’s just more interruptions because of marketing tasks.

Have you ever had an imaginary friend?
 I’ve had an entire group of imaginary friends. In a way, writing is like having a cast of characters in your head who want to tell their story.

Do you have any phobias?
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia-the fear of long words. Just typing it made me shiver.

Ever broken any bones?
No, but I’ve had lots of stitches.

Any weird things you do when you’re alone?
Dance around the house naked. Just kidding!

Social links:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Wattpad 

Buy links:
Amazon | Kobo | Nook 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Interview with romantic suspense author Rebecca Lee Smith

Today features romantic suspense mystery author Rebecca Lee Smith. She’s having some fun with an interview.

One lucky commenter (who uses the form below) will receive a $50 Amazon (or BN) gift card. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops and enter there, too! 

Rebecca lives with her husband in the beautiful, misty mountains of East Tennessee, where the people are charming, soulful, and just a little bit crazy. She's been everything from a tax collector to a stay-at-home mom to a house painter to a professional actress and director. When she's not churning out sensual romantic mysteries with snappy dialogue and happy endings, she likes to travel, go to the Outer Banks for her ocean fix, watch old movies, hang out at the local pub, and make her day complete by correctly answering the Final Jeopardy! question.

Please tell us a little bit about A Shadow on the Ground.
Morgan Maguire is afraid to believe in second chances. The family orchard is failing, her twin brother is being framed for murder, and the sharks are circling. The tough exterior she's spent years hiding behind is beginning to crumble, just as the man who shattered her heart is back in her life. Gage Kirkland is as compelling and magnetic as ever, and he's offering the kind of help she may not be able to refuse. But can she trust him?

To finance his troubled son's therapy, Gage, a former investigator, takes one last job--recovering a stolen Civil War artifact. Unfortunately, it's in the possession of the woman he left behind, the woman who's haunted his dreams ever since. The electricity between them still crackles, but unless he helps exonerate her brother and finds a way to confess his true reason for returning, how will he ever recover Morgan's heart?

Do you like kissing in public?
No. But I do feel an inexplicable pang of jealousy watching others do it. Once I was crossing the street in Manhattan and saw a couple stop in the middle of traffic, wrap their arms around each other, and kiss passionately, like there was no tomorrow. It was wildly romantic.

What is the sweetest thing someone has done for you?
I had surgery last year, and even though I’m pretty self-sufficient, my husband insisted on staying with me in the hospital the night before. I only had a small window of opportunity to eat before they cut me off from food, and the hospital cafeteria was closed. I knew I wouldn’t get real food for at least four days and asked if he would get me something from the vending machine. He went downstairs and found a little Starbucks tucked away beside the hospitality shop. He brought me a sampling of all those wonderful pastries that I always drool over, and deny myself, while standing in line waiting for my non-fat sugar-free decaf cappuccino. That night, we had a picnic on my hospital bed: apple fritters, banana walnut bread, cheese Danish, blueberry scones, chocolate croissants, and blueberry muffins. It was one of the best (and sweetest) meals I’ve ever had.

What kind of music do you like?
Smooth jazz and movie soundtracks for writing, old standards (Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Dusty Springfield, etc.) for cooking, soft rock for cleaning house, and adult alternative for hanging out. When I’m driving, I keep punching the radio station buttons until I find a song I know all the words to.

What do you do in your free time?
I like to watch movies, old or new, especially with my seven-year-old step-grandson. We are kindred spirits where movies are concerned, and I take him to see everything from The Croods to Monsters University to Turbo. I also love to read, play the weekly trivia game at the local pub, go to dinner, hang out with friends, and gather in the kitchen with my two sons and daughter-in-law for a gabfest and some serious wine tasting. I also love to travel the world, and I would recommend that to anyone who can make it happen. Traveling changed my life. It may shrink your pocketbook, but it expands your mind and heart like nothing else can.

What is one thing we would be surprised to learn about you?
That I have directed or acted in over 120 plays and musicals.

Excerpt from A Shadow on the Ground:
Gage grinned, making Morgan’s heart beat in slow, rolling thuds. “I'm going to make some calls about finding Sean representation. If he goes up against a murder charge, he'll need the best lawyer we can find.”



He held her gaze while a current of electricity sliced a path through the center of her abdomen.

“I didn't want to leave you alone last night,” he said.

“I was fine.”

“Well, I wasn't.”

“Oh, come on. A big, tough, adrenaline junkie PI like you?”

“Not so tough when the bullets are flying.”

Memories of the night before slammed into her brain—the sound of gunshots cracking the air, Gage pushing her off the flagstone walk, lying stone still beside him in the wet grass with a broken rhododendron stob biting into her neck. If she closed her eyes, she could still feel his breath crashing across her shoulder, the pulse at the base of his throat flicking against her cheek. How long had it been since she’d touched a man? Or been wrapped like his most cherished possession in the strong, shielding warmth of his arms? Had she ever felt so safe? Would she ever feel that safe again?

Maybe she should hold on to the memory. Bury it deep. Then, when she needed comfort, she could take it out and replay it over and over in her head to drive the unbearable loneliness away. Until something that felt like contentment trickled through her bloodstream, like a double shot of apple brandy on a cold, wintry night.

A shadow fell over the table.

She lifted her eyes and gasped softly. The last thing she expected to see were the pale, twisted, angry eyes of Lawrence Finch.


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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Live chat tonight (Dec 29) with C. Hope Clark of FundsForWriters.com 7-9PM EST

The Writer's Chatroom presents C. Hope Clark of FundsForWriters.com


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Eastern USA Time.....7-9 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are? http://www.worldtimeserver.com


The Writers Chatroom at: http://www.writerschatroom.com/Enter.htm

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Sign In. No password needed.

Please note: The chatroom is only open for regularly scheduled chats.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Review of "Stone Cold Dead" by Catherine Dilts

Stone Cold Dead: A Rock Shop Mystery

Genre: Mystery
Rated: ****
Reviewed by: Lisa Haselton (I received an ARC of the book in exchange for my review)

Mid-40’s, widowed, Morgan Iverson drives her old, run-down car from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Golden Springs, Colorado to watch her family’s Rock of Ages store for her brother and sister-in-law. They say it’s only a 2-week mission trip, but as soon as Morgan arrives they toss her the keys and tell her it’s a permanent getaway.

Morgan, the protagonist, is stressed enough with her new ownership status, but then the two donkeys, Adelaide and Houdini escape through an open gate, so she and one of the part-time employees go off after the animals. Morgan isn’t dressed for walking mountain trails in January and is even more unprepared for a dead body in her path. With no cell service, Morgan has to leave the young woman’s body to find higher ground. When help eventually arrives and Morgan leads the party to the spot on the trail, the body is gone. Almost before Morgan arrives back home, the town’s gossip is making the rounds. By the time Morgan actually leaves the shop and goes into town, townfolks know who she is, and what she witnessed.

By constantly upping what can go wrong in the protagonist’s life, the author kept me turning the pages. I didn’t feel an urgency to keep reading, but more of a desire to find out what came next. The author didn't disappoint. I totally enjoyed how the author wove her experience with Colorado’s landscape, donkeys, and old rocks into this fun amateur sleuth mystery. I’d love to read more about Houdini and Adelaide, as they were quite funny characters themselves and were quite involved in everything that was happening. The ending fit the story and wasn't what I expected. Very well written with a fresh voice.

I found the details about community 5Ks intriguing, as I started participating in races this year. The details were spot-on and immersed me more into the story. The unique characters made me feel at home and I’d love to stop in “Bibi’s” for some fresh bread. 

This is Catherine’s first novel in her new Rock Shop Mystery series. She’s had short fiction published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

Stone Cold Dead is entertaining to read. I enjoyed the mix of western scenery, small town life, adventures of a newbie to 5K run/walks, and the donkey antics, among other ‘gems’ in the story. It’s a great read for fans of amateur sleuths. I also enjoyed that I finished reading it during a snow storm in December and was grateful the storm wasn’t like the one at the book’s climax. I think this would be a fun book for a book group.

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Tattered Cover Bookstore and other online outlets.

Publisher: Five Star Publishing
 ISBN: 978-154328-2743-4
Pages: 2332   
Price: $25.95           
Publish date: Dec. 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Interview with aviation thriller author Ron Standerfer

Today's guest is Colonel Ron Standerfer, United States Air Force (Retired). He's written an aviation techno-thriller titled, The Eagle’s Last Flight, and is currently on tour with the novel.

During his tour, Ron will be giving away a battery-operated helicopter to a luck (US/Canada only) commenter. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase you chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops and enter there, too!

Ron Standerfer is a novelist, freelance writer, book reviewer, and photographer whose articles have appeared in numerous news publications including online editions of the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and the Honolulu Star Advertiser. He is a member of the International Travel Writers & Photographers Alliance (ITWPA) and American Writers & Artists Inc (AWAI). He is a retired Air Force fighter pilot who flew 237 combat tours in Vietnam War. His novel, The Eagle’s Last Flight chronicles the life of an Air Force fighter pilot during The Cold War and Vietnam years. He also publishes an online magazine, The Pelican Journal.

Welcome, Ron. Please tell us about The Eagle’s Last Flight.
Skip O’Neill’s first assignment as a young lieutenant places him among hard drinking World War II and Korean War era fighter pilots who quickly teach him their ways. During the Cold War and Vietnam War, he proves to be a skillful and courageous pilot who faces dangers of all kinds with equanimity. But the greatest—and most deadly danger—materializes years after he volunteers to be an observer at an atomic test site.

The Eagle’s Last Flight is a journey through a nearly forgotten era when Cold War veterans were placed in harm’s way by our government and routinely lost their lives due to the carelessness and mismanagement of their leaders. Given the current controversies over adequate protection for our troops deployed in the Middle East, it is likely that readers who take that journey will learn a lot about how it used to be, but conclude that nothing much has changed. And that is a lesson well worth noting.

What inspired you to write this book?
In 1998, my wife and I moved to Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It was a strange thing to do for a guy raised in the Midwest, but it suited my wife just fine. She was a big city girl from Warsaw, Poland and a lover of the arts as well. As soon as we unpacked, she went back to work, leaving me to cope with the Big Apple alone. Big mistake! I had way too much time on my hands. One of my favorite pastimes those days was hanging out at a local bar and restaurant on Columbus Avenue frequented by musicians from the philharmonic, opera singers, TV camera men, and stage hands at the Met—and I became the resident war story teller. Everyone seemed to like my stories and suggested I should write a book someday.

One afternoon after a particularly long lunch, I weaved my way home, struggled to unlock the apartment door with unfocused eyes, opened the door, and found my wife waiting for me. She had left work early. “You have to get a life,” she said, “or you’re going to become an alcoholic.” She was right. The next day, I decided to be a writer and write a book. It was cheaper than being an alcoholic and a whole lot healthier.

Excerpt from The Eagle’s Last Flight:
Republic of Vietnam 1969

Four F-100 Super Saber jet fighters, looking sleek and mean, circled the target like birds of prey impatient for the kill. Below them, the Mekong River lay steaming in the hot, humid air, surrounded by lush, green jungle, and red mud from the monsoon rains. Water-filled bomb craters gleamed dully in the late afternoon sun. Meanwhile, the forward air controller, or FAC, was scooting across the treetops in a small, propeller-driven aircraft, coordinating the final details of the strike.

The fighters had been airborne for over an hour, and Skip’s flying suit was drenched in sweat. He was hot, uncomfortable, and impatient. Come on, come on, he thought, let’s get on with it. Rain showers are moving in, and we won’t be able to see the ground much longer.

“Icon Flight, Banjo Two-One is rolling in for the marking pass,” the FAC said.
Skip saw an orange flash as the marking rocket left the FAC’s aircraft, followed by a burst of white smoke on the ground that rose in a tall, straight column.
“Icon Lead, that’s a good mark. Hit my smoke.”

“Roger, Icon Lead’s in. Got the smoke in sight,” he responded.

“Cleared to drop, Lead.”

Skip rolled the aircraft onto its back, and then pulled the nose through the horizon before rolling upright and into a steep dive. Things were happening fast, as the airspeed increased, and the altimeter unwound rapidly. When the target appeared in the windscreen, he began tracking it with his gun sight. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see bright muzzle flashes from a nearby tree line; then red tracers began streaming across the nose of his aircraft. Don’t look at them, he thought. Keep your eyes on the target. Steady now. It’ll be over in a second.

“Icon Lead, you’re taking ground fire,” the FAC said. “Over to the left.”

“Roger. I see it. No sweat.” His voice sounded cool and confident.

An instant later, two 750-pound bombs were sent hurtling toward the ground. Trying to avoid the ground fire, he rolled sharply to the left as he pulled out, and then back to the right. In the rear view mirror, he could see the two bombs explode in a boiling column of mud and debris.

“Good bombs, Icon Lead. Put yours in the same place, Icon Two.”

Suddenly, Skip’s aircraft began to vibrate and shake, and a series of warning lights came on in the cockpit, one after another.

“Lead, you’re trailing smoke,” Icon Two called out.

“Not to worry. I’ve…uh…got a problem.”

The aircraft was becoming harder to control as the vibrations increased. Now the flashing, red fire-warning light was on. Okay. Be cool. You gotta punch out. No big deal. Get more altitude…that’s the first thing. “Lead, you’re on fire. The whole ass-end of the aircraft is on fire. Bail out!” Icon Two’s voice was tense and demanding. “Roger that. I have to climb first and head toward the water.”

The cockpit was unbearingly hot and filled with smoke. He could hardly keep the wings level. It’s time to go, pal. You’ve done this before. Raise the ejection seat handles, and the canopy goes. Squeeze the trigger, and you go. It’s a piece of cake. Holding the control stick steady with one hand, he reached down and raised the ejection seat handle, bracing for the explosion and rush of air as the canopy left the aircraft.

Nothing happened.

No problem. Eject through the canopy. It’s been done before.

Carefully, he squeezed the exposed trigger in the handle, once again bracing himself for the shock.

Again, nothing happened. Starting to panic, he squeezed it again…and again…and again.

“Lead, I repeat. You are on fire. Get out of the fucking bird, now!” Icon Two shouted.

“Roger. I…uh…can’t. The ejection seat…it won’t…oh shit!”

The control stick went slack. The flight controls were gone. Slowly, the aircraft rolled inverted like a wounded beast. Suspended upside down, looking at the jungle below, he knew it was over. “Bail out! Bail out!” Icon Two shouted one last time. Seconds later, the twilight sky was lit by a bright, orange explosion that disintegrated into flaming shards of silver aluminum drifting to the ground.

“Too late…” Icon Two said, in a flat voice, filled with resignation.

What exciting story are you working on next?
In the mid-1980s I travelled regularly to Lima, Peru on business. It was a dangerous place to be for a foreigner in those days. The economy was in bad shape, street crimes like armed robbery were common, and business men like me were considered prime targets for kidnapping by gangs like the “Shining Path”. My book chronicles a series of visits in Lima that culminated in a situation during which I was absolutely certain that I was about to die. It was a scary experience to say the least! The working title for the book is “Shining Path to Nowhere.”

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have always considered myself a storyteller rather than a writer. When anyone tells me that they enjoy listening or reading my stories, that’s good enough for me. I’ll leave the folks that teach English Lit 101 or write book reviews for the New York Times to decided who is a good writer and who isn’t.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I have been retired from the United States Air Force and the aerospace industry for quite some time; hence, I am blessed with the time and resources to devote to my two main passions, writing and publishing the works of unknown or undiscovered writers. I try to allot four hours to each five days a week. The rest of the time I devote to my family and to my hobby which is photography.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I wouldn’t call this interesting, much less a quirk, but I do all of my writing in my head. When a paragraph or even a chapter looks just right to me in my mind, then---and only then---do I sit down at the word processor.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A military pilot. No big surprise there.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes. The Eagle’s Last Flight is not a typical techno-thriller about military aviation and war—far from it. Inside its covers are at least three story lines of interest to men and women, young and old alike—the story of one man’s struggle against a system whose peers deemed him not capable of succeeding; an enduring love story between a man and woman who faced all hardships together; and the story of a government betrayal that ultimately lead to the demise of a man who had given his all to his country. Whichever story line interests you, I promise you’ll find the book to be a great read!



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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Interview with historical fiction author Marina Raydun

Marina Raydun is here today. She’s talking about her writing and 2 of her novellas, One Year in Berlin and Foreign Bride.

Welcome, Marina. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m an NYC indie author. I was born and raised in the former USSR (born in Russia, raised in Belarus). However, having moved to the United States at the age of 11, I consider this country to be my true home. Skipping 6th grade, I entered 7th in Brooklyn, New York, where I live to this day. I hold a B.A. in History, as well as a J.D., though I do not currently practice law. I’ve been writing for myself since I was a teenager but these two novellas are my first published works of fiction.

Please tell us about your current release.
This is a book of two novellas. They differ from each other greatly, in themes and inspirations. I’ll go over them individually.

One Year in Berlin is a story about a young woman named Rachael. She is a granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and finds herself having to live in Berlin for at least a year because of her husband’s career opportunity. Even though she believes she is strong enough to not be held back by her family’s history (along with its long-held fears and prejudices), Rachael feels herself growing a bit unhinged on German soil; her new life becomes riddled with nightmares and visions, her past and present get confused. We watch her go through this year-long ordeal, unsure if she’ll ever find herself again.

Foreign Bride is a tale of two people from different countries (and cultures) looking for love. Bobby is a middle-aged man from London, while Sofiya is a younger woman from Moscow; they find each other in the context of Russia’s “mail-order bride” industry. Their feelings for each other seem genuine, despite the rather calculated manner in which they met, and yet, they can’t seem to relax and enjoy each other’s company. We are privy to their deepest insecurities and bouts of self-destruction as we watch what such things can do to a potentially happy couple.

What inspired you to write this book?
One Year in Berlin was in part inspired by my own nightmares (though, needless to say, I’ve fictionalized them for publication). Unfortunately, given that I am Jewish and come from Eastern Europe, the subject of World War II has always hit a bit close to home. I believe that unless we continue to study and talk about this dark chapter in our history, we cannot truly do our best to ensure that such atrocities never take place again; nor can there ever be any forgiveness. Because of this, I really felt it was important to try to tell a story showing three perspectives that bring little, if any, good—one that’s stuck in the past, one that’s knee deep in denial, and a third that refuses to see what the fuss is all about given how many years have passed.

Rachael’s nightmares can also be read as a metaphor for her feelings towards (or fears of) her husband. This novella can be read entirely as a relationship piece. How you’d rather interpret this one is entirely up to the reader; I wrote it dually on purpose.

Foreign Bride, on the other hand, was inspired by my fascination with the “mail-order bride” industry. The footing in these types of relationships is anything but equal—at least one party is out of her/his comfort zone. Expectations also differ greatly from those one would reasonably anticipate in a more ordinary setting. Not to say that these relationships are always doomed to abuse and mistrust. Absolutely not! There are legitimately happy couples out there who are genuinely grateful to this industry for helping them find each other. Still, I’ve always wanted to look deeper into this world, wanting to play around with the various themes involved. One morning, during my subway commute, I visualized the first chapter and had to write it down. I took it from there.

Excerpt from One Year in Berlin, Chapter 1:
Darren eyed his wife with a hint of worry from behind the thick, pseudo-intellectual frames he used for reading. He put down his copy of The New Yorker and threw his arm around her, pulling her into his side.

“Relax, Ascher, whatever it is you are thinking about, odds are—you’re overthinking it,” he ordered in his effortlessly confident tone as she let out a snort into his black, fashionably worn-out leather jacket.

Darren was used to a strong, tough wife and suspected that having to watch her deteriorate would not be easy.

“Look! It says I’m German,” she whined cautiously.

Excerpt from Foreign Bride, Chapter 2:
When it was Bobby’s turn, her heart seemed to stop beating to allow her ears to hear better.

“London,” he answered simply.

Sofiya was used to hearing these men declare with pride that they were from New York but really being from Albany, or saying that they were from Frankfurt but really meaning Aachen. Chances of this man being from London were slim, she knew.

“Really? London-London?” she smiled, lifting her eyebrows skeptically.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a full length novel, aiming for publication late this spring (2014). A reader of mine once described my stories as those about “relationships with a twist.” I love that description and find it to be very accurate. This upcoming novel will sure be a “relationship (or two…or three) with a twist (or two…or three)” type of work, set against the backdrop of a murder-mystery.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote my first short story in high school, but it wasn’t until a little later in life that I realized that I love writing for its own sake; that crafting stories and characters simply makes me happy. I’ve always been a bit afraid of titles so I’m not sure when I officially labeled myself a “writer,” but I’ll say sometime during a sleepless night in college.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am not a full-time writer. As a mom, my daily routine is fairly busy, but I try to carve out time to write every single day. I think it is important to do so for the sheer exercise of it. Even if the piece will not pan out to be a story you’ll ever publish or even share with a friend, it’s vital to give your brain that workout. Right now, about two hours a day is all I am able to commit to this passion but I try to make this time as productive and focused as I possibly can.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t start with an outline. I always have to write out the first chapter fairly thoroughly before going back and working out an outline for the entire piece. I like to try to give my characters as much freedom as possible to tell me where it is they want to go.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always wanted to be a singer (and an actor). Growing up, I never really wanted to play with “real” toys; instead, I’d play records and act out concerts or musicals (all in front of imaginary but sold-out arenas, of course). I don’t think those dreams have ever truly seized to be my ultimate fairytale-type fantasies but for a brief moment in time, as an adolescent, I also wanted to become a teacher and a lawyer. I guess I’ve always wanted to create something.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I would like to thank them for taking a chance on a new name and for reading my creations. It means the world!

If I could give anyone a piece of advice, it’d be this: go after your dreams! Pursue them aggressively! The longer you wait to pursue them, the harder it’ll become to eventually make them a reality.


Thanks, Marina! Happy writing!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Interview with contemporary fiction author David Evans

Welcome to today's promo spotlight. Along with the interview and a book excerpt, guest David Evans has a gift card giveaway for you to enter. Use the form below.

Author bio:
David Evans is a Toronto-based pain consultant with an interest in all types of chronic, intractable non–cancer pain. An avid fly fisherman, crossword and Sudoko aficianado and global traveler, The Arkansas Connection is David’s first novel, but he is hard at work on a second one!

Author links - WebsiteGoodreads | Amazon


About the Book

Book Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Jemsdale Publishing
Release Date: February 21, 2013
Buy Link: Amazon

ArkansasConnection_coverWelcome, David. Please tell us a little bit about your book.  
Frank Munro, manager of the New York Mets, leads a turbulent life trying to win with a team of dysfunctional underachievers. Soon after the Mets lose the final game of the season, Frank finds out his mother has died, and he must return to his hometown of Catsville, Arkansas, to arrange her funeral. His attempt to give her remains a grand send-off results in mayhem, and out of pity his mother’s friend Alice invites him to a "tea party” with three other ladies, where the tea is actually moonshine. Frank gives them a play-by-play of that final game, and manages to survive the evening. He returns to New York to find the Mets’ owner has decided to give him one more chance.  

Meanwhile, Bobby Sherward, a doctor-turned-right fielder who sustained a concussion from the fly ball and lost the Mets' final season game, decides that his future is in medicine, not baseball. He takes a position at a veteran’s hospital in Arkansas. Upon arrival, he is amazed to find it's within spitting distance of Frank's hometown. 

That’s not the only unsettling coincidence Bobby must contend with, for it soon becomes apparent that Broken Arrow Memorial is the medical equivalent of the Mets. Run by a psychotic medical director, the hospital is the home of indifferent or incompetent doctors, electro-convulsed patients, and assorted weird experiments. 

Bobby soon has enough, but before he leaves town he encounters a remarkable sandlot baseball player named Jonathon Brown. Besides being a phenomenal player, Jonathon is also a mathematical genius who runs a highly successful investment group in the back room of a local diner.  

Bobby manages to convince Jonathon to try out for the Mets, and his incredible skills both on the field and in finance bring him and the team fame and prosperity. But Jonathon also raises the ire of the brokerage firm losing customers to his sound investment advice. As a result, the company's CEO makes plans to “eliminate” the new competition. Will Jonathon survive his trip to the big league, and complete the Arkansas Connection?

PLEASE NOTE: There are some suggestive scenes and swearing in the book- so it’s not for children.      

What inspired you to write this book? 
I work as a pain consultant and have seen quite a few sports injuries and thought that I would like to write a novel considering I spend most of my time writing non-fiction. . The baseball parts involving the Mets are based on the fact that they really at one time were the laughing stock of the sport. The financial part is based on my innate distrust of bankers and stock brokers. The medical part, is based on my experiences somewhat exaggerated. 

Excerpt from The Arkansas Connection:
The baseball season ended dramatically for Frank Munro, when he was ejected in the eighth inning of the final game of the regular schedule for saying unkind things about the first base umpire. At precisely the same time, Frank’s elderly mother, who happened to be watching the game in her home in Catsville, Arkansas, just as dramatically dropped dead from a heart attack in front of her television set.

Two days later Frank was airborne, heading south to attend his mother’s funeral. Frank hated flying, and the captain’s announcement that they would be running into a little turbulence only made him more nervous and depressed. His dark mood was not so much brought on by his mother’s death, which in many ways was a godsend, but by the fact that her funeral merely postponed his annual show-and-tell luncheon meeting with the team’s owner, Steve Conroy. Frank had been manager of the Mets for five years, and inevitably Steve would bring the meeting to an end by making the same demand: “Frank, give me one fucking reason why I shouldn’t fire you.” And Frank would just as inevitably answer that he didn’t have one.
This year was even more critical, because the team had managed to pull off one of its worst seasons since Steve had bought the club ten years previously. To make matters worse, the final game against the Giants would probably go down as one of the greatest debacles in the history of baseball.

Frank stared morosely into what was left of his third Scotch, and pondered the fate that had led him into managing such a bunch of dysfunctional, psychotic underachievers. The problem wasn’t that they lacked talent, but that most of their energy seemed to be directed toward their extracurricular activities – drinking, self-medicating with dope, beating up their wives and girlfriends, fighting in bars, and generally whoring around. Baseball just seemed to give them something to do between all the other stuff.

After landing in Dallas, Frank took a white-knuckle hedgehopper to Broken Arrow and rented a car for the last leg of the trip to Catsville. The airplane food and multiple Scotches had left him with heartburn and a major hangover, but he still felt a pang of unfamiliar nostalgia as he drove the eight miles down the road to his hometown. Besides being the home of Potter Plastics, the biggest employer and polluter in the county, Catsville was also a major trading center for the vintage moonshine liquor that was distilled in the pine forests surrounding the town. If you looked carefully as you drove down the winding road into the valley, you might see wisps of black smoke sneaking through the trees, indicating that there would soon be new product hitting the market.

For Frank right now, Catsville was a retreat where he thought he could relax, say a final good-bye to his mother, and hide for a couple of weeks from the New York media, which was vicious in its criticism of his handling of the team. Apart from the usual carping that he should never have been hired in the first place, there were more serious charges that cast aspersions on his birthright and sexual proclivities. One caller to a radio talk show, mixing him up with a serial killer of the same name, suggested he should have his testicles cut off and stuffed down his throat.

What exciting story are you working on next?  
Actually I’m working on another novel, but this one will be a little closer to my area of expertise one set in the medical field. Not sure exactly what is happening with it but I’m interested to see what I arrive at!

When did you first consider yourself a writer? 
I’ve never sat down and made any declaration that I’m a writer. People write all the time whether it’s a simple report for work or articles for journals. In the medical field your whole life revolves around paperwork of some kind and since part of that profession is publication in medical journals I just did it. I’ve never really thought about whether I was a writer or not. I think sometimes that too much attention is paid to labeling people and not enough to what they are producing. I am who I am and if that also includes being a writer then that’s great.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write? 
No, I’m a full time doctor (specialty in Anesthesiology) and I work with patients who have all types of chronic, intractable non-cancer pain. Most people I see have had pain for many months or years and have often seen many care givers. I work and treat them through many different means. So I find that writing is a good way to unwind at the end of the day, and that’s generally when I write.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know that I have one. Unless a quirk is to sit down and just write. Some people find it difficult to sit down in front of a blank piece of paper. I’ve never had that problem so maybe that’s a quirk.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I think I was a typical kid growing up, but back then ( I’m in my 70’s) you either went to school and then later found your vocation or you ended up doing basic jobs. I always had a love of learning and helping people so I went the doctor route. Little did I know how much time you had to devote to your studies, but it was an area that I’ve always loved.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?  
I think that it’s good to remember that you can achieve what you want to no matter what age you are. I didn’t think to start writing a novel until I was in my 70’s and that’s okay. If you want to do it you will. Don’t let other people make it seem like you are running out of time, you aren’t. It’s even easier to publish now that you can take advantage of e-book technology, so take your time and do a good job.  

Thanks, David!


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Friday, December 20, 2013

Book excerpt for Tragic Love by M.S. Brannon

Today is a stop along M.S. Brannon's virtual book tour for her new adult romance novel, Tragic Love.

M.S. Brannon was born and raised in the Midwest. She still resides there today with her wonderful husband and son. When she is not writing or reading, M.S. Brannon spends time with her family, watching movies, and discovering new music. She writes romance because she believes love and heartache is the rawest emotion one can experience.

For Drake and Presley, life has handed them more challenges than any one person should ever face in a lifetime. Together, they've survived Presley’s captivity from her deranged uncle, but now they must learn how to live with the events that surrounded her time spent with him, while keeping the details of her rescue a secret. 

For Presley Quinn, living the last two years has been practically unbearable, constantly drowning in nightmares put there by a man responsible for the violent imagines continually playing in her mind. She keeps moving forward, but is barely clinging onto the edge when she’s faced with another obstacle from her past that is so unavoidable, so tragic, it threatens to break her apart—herself.

Drake will do anything to protect Presley from ever feeling pain again. His love is irrefutable. He walks side by side with her, vowing he will never let anyone harm her again. However, when an unexpected event turns Presley against everyone she’s ever loved, Drake is faced with trying to save the only woman he’s ever loved or severing the only lifeline she’s ever had—himself.

There are moments of such significance in your life it doesn’t matter what you do or what someone can say, nothing will eliminate that memory from the deepest recesses of your mind. These moments will always be there, filling up your entire life with so much joy you could combust at any second. Then, there are moments filled with the most earth shattering pain ever in existence when you feel like you’re dying a horrible death. These moments live so closely together in your mind, they are almost intertwined with one another. Moments that are spinning on an axis, carefully balanced on the rim of your sanity.

Not living far from these significant events in one’s life are the feelings attached to them. Feelings that live in the shadows of these particular moments where a person never knew one could experience such emotions until the day that you live through such an instance because they only surface when you fully understand just how life altering the event is. They’re unexplainable. A person is not meant to feel any of these foreign feelings until they’ve experienced that moment first hand.  ~Drake Evans, Tragic Love