Friday, September 29, 2017

Interview with thriller author Ted Galdi

Mystery author Ted Galdi joins me to chat about his new thriller, An American Cage.

Ted Galdi is the author of the bestselling novel Elixir, which he published in 2014. The book is a winner of a Reader Views Reviewers Choice Award and a Silver Medal in the Readers' Favorite Book Awards. Ted is a graduate of Duke University and lives in Los Angeles. He has been featured by ABC and FOX television, iHeartRadio, Examiner, and many other media outlets. His second novel, An American Cage, is scheduled for release Fall 2017.

Welcome, Ted. Please tell us about your current release.
An American Cage is a fast-paced thriller about Danny Marsh, a suburban kid who winds up in jail from a crime he never intended to commit, and decides to escape. The story follows him and his two breakout partners over a twenty-four-hour period as they try to cross the Texas border to freedom in Mexico. An ally isn’t who he seems, and things get worse and worse for Danny along the way. Soon, his life, and those of his family, are at stake.

What inspired you to write this book?
The title An American Cage clearly refers to the idea of prisons, however, on a metaphorical level, it speaks to the American cultural clash between religion, science, and the individual, which sits at the heart of the book’s theme. This was the place I started. I wanted to comment on this, and a suspenseful jailbreak story seemed like an interesting framework for it. My goal for this book was to weave a classically “exciting” thriller plotline with a cultural-commentary thread.    

Excerpt from An American Cage:
The first chapter is available to read online on my website:

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m on a first draft of another thriller. It’s still too early in the process to discuss it. I’d be happy to come back and chat when it’s ready.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always wrote stories. From a very young age. They were in crayon and had pictures when I first started. But they were still stories. If someone writes a story, even a really brief one they don’t get paid for, they’re considered a writer in my book (pun absolutely intended).

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’m not really a morning person, so often write at night. I try to do two thousand words a day. I’m also involved in non-writing businesses, so technically, I’d be considered a part-time writer. But as long as I can do two thousand words a day (or close to it), the distinction of part-time versus full-time doesn’t matter. It’s completed pages that count.

When I’m starting a book, especially after I get a first draft of an outline done, I like “sitting on it” for a while, i.e., stepping away from the project and letting it settle in my head. I do the same thing after I finish a manuscript draft. This lets you eventually re-approach the story with fresh eyes. During these periods, since I’m not physically writing, my nights are freer. I get a lot of reading done with this free time. I love reading, and in my opinion, second to writing itself, it’s the best activity an author can do to get better.

I don’t accomplish much at night on the weekends, though. The vast majority of my reading and writing goes on during the week. I like taking a break on the weekends.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Every time I finish a draft, I drink a bottle of wine and watch a movie. Always alone. Nobody else allowed.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional baseball player.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I love connecting with readers. Hit me up on social media or shoot me an email about anything you’d like…


Thanks for being here today! All the best with your writing.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Interview with novelist Carol DeMent

Novelist Carol DeMent joins me today to chat about her new historical mainstream work, Saving Nary.

During her virtual book tour, Carol will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit herother tour stops and enter there, too!

Carol DeMent worked in the field of South East Asian refugee resettlement for seven years, and completed master's level research into international refugee resettlement policy. She lived for two years in Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer and has traveled extensively in South East Asia. Her first novel, Saving Nary, was a Finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Welcome, Carol. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Saving Nary is the story of a Cambodian refugee searching for his missing daughters. It explores the complexities of wartime loyalties and impossible choices, the bewildering cultural and linguistic challenges of resettling in a new country, and the hesitant journey toward healing from war-induced trauma. Dotted throughout with wry humor, Saving Nary is a compassionate look at what it means to lose- and rediscover-a life, a home, a sense of self.

What inspired you to write this book?
My experiences volunteering to tutor SE Asian refugees in the late 70’s, and later, working in the field of refugee resettlement both provided a strong impetus to write Saving Nary. The more I learned about the Khmer Rouge and the devastating impact their reign had on Cambodia and its people, the more I felt this was a story that merited a wider telling, and I hoped that a novel could provide that vehicle. The following excerpt offers a hint of the Khmer Rouge menace:

Excerpt from Saving Nary:
“Silence that boy,” the soldier had said to his wife on that awful day.
Khieu gathered their son Bunchan into her arms, but how is one to soothe a toddler who cries from hunger when there is no food? Khath, Khieu and their three children had been walking for three days in the heat and humidity, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other refugees inching their way out of Phnom Penh by order of the Khmer Rouge. Already hunger, thirst and exhaustion had thinned their ranks: the elderly and the ill simply dropped along the sides of the road, patiently awaiting the mercy of death.
Given only minutes to prepare for their exodus, the food Khath and his family carried was gone in a day. After that, they bought, scavenged and bartered for whatever nourishment they could find along the way. Now, they stood next in line before a table of grim-faced cadres in the simple uniform of the Khmer Rouge: black cotton shirts and pants with kramas, red-checkered scarves, wound around their heads or necks. The cadres were checking identity papers and quizzing the refugees about their prior occupations.
Bunchan’s incessant crying enraged the soldier. “Silence him or I will,” he warned Khieu.
Khath saw the man’s tight lips and clenched jaw and stepped between his wife and the soldier, doing his best both to shield his family and appease the angry cadre.
“Please,” Khath said. “If you could spare just a few grains of rice. Or perhaps there is some place nearby I could buy or trade for food. I will go immediately. The child is hungry, that’s all.”
Khieu’s frantic attempts to calm Bunchan had the opposite effect. Red faced, the toddler screamed his hunger to the skies above.
The soldier flicked his eyes to one side, turning slightly. Following his gaze, Khath saw a man standing a little apart from the check-point, watching the scene impassively. As Khath waited, his heart thudding inside his chest like the heavy, dread beat of a death knell, he saw the man glance at the position of the sun and cast a look at the road behind Khath, densely packed with men, women and children yet to be processed through the checkpoint.
The man rubbed his left jawline as though he had a toothache, but perhaps it was his ear, missing its earlobe, which was causing the pain. At any rate, he frowned and seemed to come to some sort of decision, for he looked at the soldier and gave a barely perceptible nod.
At that, the soldier moved quickly, brushing past Khath and yanking Bunchan from Khieu’s arms. “You had your chance,” he said to Khieu, and began striding toward a large tree not far off the side of the road, the bawling toddler slung under his arm.
“My baby! Give me my baby!” Khieu screamed and rushed after the soldier, grabbing at Bunchan, whose angry howls had turned to terrified shrieks.
Khath’s daughters, crying, tried to run after their mother but Khath held them back. A terrible dread filled his heart as he watched the scene rapidly unfolding before him for he knew that the Khmer Rouge were ruthless when crossed.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have two projects on-going at the moment. One is a novel about the cultural impact on a pioneer family of the influx of Chinese mine and railroad workers in the West. Set in Montana in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the story is narrated through the uncensored eyes of a young girl exposed to a new culture at a time of great turmoil in her own family.

The second is a memoir from my years of serving in the Peace Corps in Thailand in the 1980s.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Though I have been “writing” since childhood, it wasn’t until a college research project on the Prohibition Movement ended up being nearly 100 pages that it occurred to me that I might be able to write a full length novel. The techniques I learned then for tracking down information and organizing it have been invaluable to me as I research my books. Joining a serious critique group, the Puget Sound Writers Guild, marked a new level of commitment for me in moving from thinking of myself as a writer to being a writer!

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 currently do not write full time, though in the past I supported myself for ten years as a grant writer. For the last twenty years, I have been a licensed practitioner of East Asian medicine, essentially acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Due to my schedule, I end up usually working on my books in the evening, but I really love to write on rainy days!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Unlike many writers, I do not write every day. Instead, I think and think and think about the story for days until the pressure to write becomes almost unbearable and I head to my computer for a cathartic, stream of consciousness splat upon the page. I literally will “write” entire dialogues and scenes in my head until it all overflows onto the paper.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
After reading “Sue Barton, Student Nurse” I couldn’t wait to grow up and be a nurse, mostly because of the memorable scene of Sue wandering lost in the steam tunnels of the hospital where she was training, and being rescued by a handsome young doctor. Then I wanted to be a dancer while in high school until it became evident that my back was as stiff as a board.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I love hearing from readers about what they thought of Saving Nary, and if they gained any new insights from the book. I especially love going to book groups that have read the novel and answering their questions and participating in their discussions.

Website | Amazon book | Amazon author | Goodreads

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Interview with fantasy author Karin Rita Gastreich

Novelist Karin Rita Gastreich joins me today to talk about her new fantasy release, Daughter of Aithne.

During her virtual book tour, Karin will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Karin Rita Gastreich writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she is part of the biology faculty at Avila University. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands all her life. Her pastimes include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. In addition to THE SILVER WEB trilogy, Karin has published short stories in World Jumping, Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.
Welcome, Karin. Please share a little bit about your current release.
The third novel of my fantasy trilogy, Daughter of Aithne is the culmination of a conflict that has spanned generations. It is the story of two powerful women – Eolyn, Queen of MoisehĂ©n, and Taesara, Princess of Roenfyn – who confront each other in a final, decisive battle for the throne of the Mage Kings.  

What inspired you to write this book?
I’m a big fan of history and historical fiction, and I’ve always enjoyed stories of women in medieval and Renaissance times. I wanted to write a novel about women coming to power in a feudal society. The story is set in a fantasy world, but the characters are based on true women in history. As the series finale, Daughter of Aithne is the result of a long struggle by women to assert their destiny in a world traditionally dominated by men.

Excerpt from Daughter of Aithne:
Eolyn shifted in her seat. A thousand words stood poised upon her lips, of which only a handful could be chosen and delivered. Each conversation in the coming days had to be undertaken with great care, especially when it came to this mage.

“Why did Thelyn come for us, and not you?” she asked.

“I was needed to track down the magas still residing in the City,” Corey replied. “Besides, Thelyn was the better mage for that task.”

Mariel, she thought. He would not have had the heart to bind Mariel.

A small sign, perhaps, that Mage Corey could yet be counted among her friends.

“I understand you are to oversee their interrogation,” Eolyn said.

“It is true, my Lady Queen.”

“I have expressed my concerns about this to the King. He assures me that you and your mages will not be permitted to—”

“My Lady Queen, if there is one thing you have learned in the years of our friendship, it is that I will do whatever must be done in the moment at hand, and I will harden my heart to see it through.”

“That may be the case, Mage Corey. Yet I also know that words are your most effective tool. You have never resorted to violence to obtain what you require.”

Corey let her statement hang in the air.

Eolyn averted her gaze, suddenly aware of the icy tension in her hands.

I, too, am being interrogated.

“You did not bring a scribe,” she said quietly.

“What need have I for a scribe, my Lady Queen?” He softened his tone. “We are, as of yet, simply conversing.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
Now that I’ve finished The Silver Web, I’m working on a contemporary fantasy collection entitled Path of Souls. Set in my home town of Kansas City, this series features mature women protagonists who take on a realm of supernatural beings in a brutal contest for dominion over human souls.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote my first story when I was in grade school. I’ve been writing ever since.

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 don’t write fiction full time, though I do a lot of other writing in my day job. I’m a biology professor and department chair at my university, so all my fiction writing is squeezed into the edges of my life. During the summer, when we are on break, I write almost every day. When the semester is in session, I set aside 2-3 hours a week as my sacred writing time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
As a behavioral biologist, I know a lot of interesting and sometimes crazy stories about animals and nature. I often use those stories to inform my fiction.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Everything. I still kind of want to be everything. That’s why I write and journey with my imagination. One life is too short!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you like high adventure, complex characters, and a healthy dose of heart-wrenching romance, you will love my books! Daughter of Aithne can be read without having finished the first two books of the trilogy, but for a richer experience, I recommend starting at the beginning with Eolyn, Book One of The Silver Web.  


Purchase link for Eolyn, Book One of THE SILVER WEB

Purchase link for Sword of Shadows, Book Two of THE SILVER WEB

Purchase link for Daughter of Aithne, Book Three of THE SILVER WEB

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

Thank you for having me!

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

New interview with novelist Peggy Jaeger

Novelist Peggy Jaeger is here today and we’re talking about her new contemporary romance, A Shot at Love.

During her virtual book tour, Peggy will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child. Tying into her love of families, her children's book, The Kindness Tales, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.

Peggy holds a master's degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer's Disease during her time running an Alzheimer's in-patient care unit during the 1990s.
In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance.

In 2017, she came in 3rd in the New England Reader's Choice contest for A Kiss Under the Christmas Lights and is a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest for the same title. A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Welcome, Peggy. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Photographer Gemma Laine is looking for arresting faces on the streets of Manhattan when her camera captures something shocking—a triple murder. In that moment, she becomes a target for the mob—and a top priority for a very determined, breathtakingly handsome, FBI special agent. With deadlines to meet and photo shoots on her calendar, Gemma chafes at the idea of protection, but every moment she spends under his watchful eye is a temptation to lose herself in his muscular arms . . .

With two of his men and one crucial witness dead, Special Agent Kyros Pappandreos can’t afford to be distracted. But Gemma is dazzling—and her connection to Kandy Laine’s high-profile cooking empire makes her an especially easy mark for some very bad people. Keeping her safe is much more pleasure than business, but as the heat between them starts to sizzle, Ky is set to investigate whether they have a shot at love…..

What inspired you to write this book? After I finished book 1 in the WILL COOK FOR LOVE SERIES, I knew I had to give Gemma her own love story. She comes across as flirty at times, hard as stone at others, and there were so many past factors that lead to her mercurial personality, I wanted to explore them and give her a man who would calm her fears about commitment and allow her to see her lifelong belief that all men leave just isn’t true. Plus, Gemma was the Laine sister I tagged as the Warrior and wanted to show her in all her bad-assery!

Excerpt from A Shot at Love:
            “That’s her.” The officer pointed to a police vehicle in the middle of the barricaded street a moment later. “Name’s Gemma Laine.”
            A woman stood next to the vehicle, a cell phone at her ear, her back to him. Tall, maybe as tall as him, and slender, her back tapered down to a miniscule waist, her legs clad in tight, faded jeans. When she turned Ky almost stopped midstride, the questions he intended to grill her with jumping out of his head. His breath caught as he simply stared at the loveliest woman he’d ever seen.
            Hair the color of midnight, straight as a board, fell to just below her shoulders, blowing back from her face in the gentle afternoon breeze. Blunt, chopped bangs, fringed a pair of large, bright blue eyes. Plump, coral colored lips moved as she spoke into the phone and for a brief, hot second, Ky wondered if they’d taste as delicious as they looked.
            Her gaze stayed on him as she spoke.
            “I’ve gotta go,” she said into the phone. “Yeah. I’ll call when I’m done. Love you, too.”
            “Miss Laine?”
            She tucked the phone into her back pocket.
            “I’m Special Agent Pappandreos. I need to speak with you about what you saw.”
            “Special Agent?” Those delicate brows furrowed under her bangs. “Like, FBI?”
            Jesus, where does a woman get a voice like that? Whiskey laced with honey and rolled into one smooth pitch.
            “Yes. I understand you witnessed the shooting? You photographed it?”
            She nodded. “I was working when it all started. I took a series of shots while it was happening.”         
            His gaze flicked to the camera she held in one hand.
            “I need to see those pictures.”
            His first impression of her height had been correct. She was maybe three or four inches shorter than his six foot one frame. As she moved closer, the hairs on the back of his neck stood straight at attention. She smelled as good as she looked and his nostrils flared from the scent of sweet cherries blended with some hot exotic spice.
            “It all went down so fast,” she said. “But I got some good shots.” Handing him the camera, she added, “Press this button to advance.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
Book 3 in the series CAN’T STAND THE HEAT comes next. That’s cousin Stacy’s story and she’s in for a heck-uv-a-ride in Montana as the executive producer of a network Food Competition Reality show. Nikko Stamp is a take-no-prisoners director and has made it known more than once, and loudly, that he doesn’t want an executive producer underfoot. The two are polar opposites in everything and in every way and boy has that made for some fun writing!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In all honesty, I’ve always been a writer, even from a young age. I was given one of those old-fashioned key-and-lock diaries when I was 6. I considered my life very boring at that time, so I started writing little vignettes about an only child of divorced parents and all the adventures she’d have while waiting for her parents to get home from work every evening. What’s that saying: art imitates life? Yeah, well at the time I was the only child – and a latch key kid at that – of divorced parents. Even though I was writing fiction, it was based on fact – the fact of my life. So, from being a life long diarist, it made sense I’d grow up with writing as my best friend.

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 do write full-time. In 2015, I retired from my life in health care when I got my first publishing contract. I always told my husband that if I ever got a contract in publishing I was going to leave my job and retire for good. I don’t know who was more surprised when I did just that and never looked back!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I hate sounding conceited, but I’m really good at dialogue. I think it’s because I’m so nosy. I lovelovelove to sit in a restaurant, or at an event (like a movie theater) and listen to the people around me talk. You can learn so much about a person, their relationships, and the way they interact with the world just by eavesdropping. Because of that habit, I can hear how my characters speak, say words, even the idioms they use as part of their everyday talking life when I’m writing. I’ve changed dialogue so many times because the characters will actually tell me that it’s wrong for them. I’ve used a word they would never use; said a phrase they would never say.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A nurse and a writer. I scored 100% on both!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Read to your children and grandchildren. Every day. No matter what it is – the newspaper, a funny article, even if they don’t understand it. Read to them. I read aloud to my daughter when I was pregnant with her and I swear she came out being able to read! I’m not exaggerating but she did actually start reading on her own at a little over 2 years old. My husband and I knew she could do it when we took her to a restaurant for dinner, she pointed at a sign and said, “Exit, Mommy.” And it was the exit sign! We were both a little floored and whole lotta excited. Reading opens so many doors for people of all ages. It’s the one thing you can do no matter how old, infirm, or incapacitated you are – because you can always listen to audio books if you can’t hold a book in your hand. Give your children and all the children in your realm the gift of reading.

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Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

It was completely my pleasure!! Thanks so much for having me. I always love to “talk” to new people – and now you know why!! Hee hee

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