Friday, August 14, 2015

Interview with novelist Susan G. Weidener

I have novelist Susan G.Weidener here today chatting about her newest book: A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based On a True Story.

Bio:
Susan G. Weidener is a former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer. She left journalism in 2007 and wrote and published her memoir, Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again, about being widowed at a young age. Two years later, she wrote and published its sequel, Morning at Wellington Square, a woman’s search for passion and renewal in middle age. Her debut novel, A Portrait of Love and Honor, completes the trilogy, inspired by and dedicated to her late husband, John M. Cavalieri, on whose memoir A Portrait of Love and Honor is based. She lives in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.

Welcome, Susan. Please tell us about your current release.
A Portrait of Love and Honor takes place in 1993 when Jay Scioli approaches author and editor Ava Stuart to edit his memoir about his years as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point during the Vietnam War. She is newly-divorced . . . while she has a willing heart, she steels herself against more disappointment in love . . . until she meets Jay. His story strikes a chord in her and their connection is almost immediate. Jay is a man who has said good-bye to innocence, the U.S. Army, and corporate America. He is drawn to the striking and successful Ava.  Facing one setback after another, their love embraces friendship, crisis, dignity, disillusionment. Their love story reflects a reason for living in the face of life’s unexpected events.

What inspired you to write this book?
I loved my husband very much. For years his unpublished memoir sat in the closet. From time to time, I would pull it out and reread it. I knew I wanted to find an audience for his work; the question . . . how?

John, Class of ’71, USMA, wrote about his years as a cadet at West Point and his battle with cancer, before his death in 1994. John’s pen name was Jay Scioli. I always felt his memoir both compelling and beautifully written. The publication of A Portrait of Love and Honor, which is written in first and third person, and is a combination of memoir and fiction, is the result and culmination of a long-held dream to see his story reach readers.


Excerpt from A Portrait of Love and Honor:
After we arrived in Manhattan, we immediately headed for the one place cadets had been told to avoid – Forty-Second Street. What a scene we must have cut as we strolled down the avenue in our dress gray uniforms, gray hats covering our closely-shaved heads. Out of place, yes, but in a strange way we complemented the vendors, porno hustlers and street people; all of us melding into the great American mainstream. We stopped into the first bar we saw and ordered a few beers. Suddenly we had a personal game plan – take the subway to Greenwich Village.
We walked through Washington Square, home of the famous “Beat Generation.” I had read Jack Kerouac over the summer while lying in my bunk at Buckner and had tried to identity with that feeling of being free to do anything I wanted – although in reality my life bore no resemblance whatsoever to this new lifestyle of the sixties. We walked past shops and cafés, smelled incense and listened to the sounds of Jefferson Airplane and the Beatles wafting out of bars and head shops. Suddenly, a voice called to us from a doorway. “Hey war mongers, get outta here.” We didn’t stop walking, just looked over and saw two men with shoulder-length hair leaning against a brick wall, laughing at us in our uniforms and spit-shined shoes. They waved, then flashed us the peace sign. Bill flashed them a sign, too; half a peace sign.


What exciting story are you working on next?
Another love story . . . TBA

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess it was when I received an ‘A’ in my creative writing class at American University from a professor who used to be a journalist for the now-defunct Washington Star. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way! After graduation from college, I landed my first paying job as a reporter on a suburban weekly newspaper in my hometown. I got to cover, of all things, the filming of the movie Taps starring two unknowns – Sean Penn and Tom Cruise. It was like – I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this. I would have done it for free.

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?
Since I left the newspaper, I’ve worked fulltime as a writer and editor. In the last five years, I’ve published two memoirs and the novel – along with an anthology of short stories and poems written by my group, the Women’s Writing Circle. In addition, I teach writing workshops and act as a writing coach. I also publish a weekly blog and market my books through social media and at community events and book signings. There’s not a whole lot of time left over after that.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t think I have any quirks. As a former journalist, I’m very deadline-oriented. When I have a writing project, I tend to get right to it. I let it percolate for a while, come back to it and then revise. I enjoy long walks with my dog, Lily, a yellow Lab . . . as a way to relax, ponder and jumpstart writing ideas and projects.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Ever since I read Gone With the Wind, I wanted to be a writer. I loved romantic stories . . . and stories about women, their lives, their passions, hopes and dreams. The book The Women’s Room by Marilyn French changed my life. I kept thinking, ‘this is what I want to do . . . write a book like this, something that matters, that is important and has a message.’ But I had to make a living, raise two sons on my own . . . and journalism was the best way to get paid to write. It would be many years before I could work on writing books.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
My hope is that my books give readers something to think about, something they can apply to their own lives . . . lessons learned. And I’m grateful for each and every reader who takes a chance on my books. I love hearing from my readers and I can be reached at susanweidener711@gmail.com Thank you for offering me this opportunity to talk about A Portrait of Love and Honor.

Links:

Thank you, Susan!










Friday, July 31, 2015

Interview with Christian novelist Ian Dexter Palmer

I'm wrapping the week up with an interview with Christian novelist Ian Palmer. We're focused on his newest book, a teenage redemption story called Weed and Water.

Bio:
Originally from Australia, Ian lives in the high desert in his beloved Southwest USA. As a petroleum engineer, recently retired, he consulted all over the world. When he hikes with them or watches them play sports, Ian’s grandchildren are a particular source of happiness. His main interests are hiking, dancing, writing, and stimulating conversation. Ian regularly writes a new blog on various topics relating to Christian faith, and has also written a book called Hiking Toward Heaven.

Welcome, Ian. Please tell us about your current release.
Weed and Water is about a teen athlete called Ethan who goes down because of shame which leads to sex and drugs. As well as hurting himself, the boy brings heartbreak to his single mom who is doing her best. A mysterious stranger called Jackson, who is more than he appears to be, challenges Ethan about his choices, and offers a way out. But Ethan continues to yo-yo, unsure of who or what he can trust. The story, which is set in the desert Southwest and in the rivers and lakes of the Midwest, rocks and rolls with tension and geographical adventure.

What inspired you to write this book?
I have a granddaughter who is 16, and a grandson who is 13. They are in the challenging years, so I chose to write about the lure of sex and drugs (call it Weed). These kids also know about faith in God (call it Water). I wanted to write about the tension within many teenagers as they slosh, like seaweed in the ocean, back and forth between the Weed and the Water.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am creating a new book called Nerd in a Blue Leather Jacket. This is about receiving insights and wisdom from God. I pull up examples from my own private life as well as my nerdy career, and also incidents told me by other people. It’s very cool to look back on tipping points in life, to see the hand of God behind these.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Many years ago I wrote a book called Unleash Your Creative Mind, but never published it. However the research for this book based on the intuitive right brain and the analytical left brain, became a tremendous guide for the rest of my life, both private and career.

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?
Apart from writing, my interests are hiking, dancing, and playing pickleball. My goal is to write half of each day, like Ian Fleming did in Jamaica while he created James Bond. I recently lost three months after my home flooded.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
After starting a book or a blog, ideas and connections come to me out of the blue….in the shower, in the car, on the dance floor. Wherever I am I always try to jot down a note, so I won’t forget them.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an ornithologist (bird-studier). I was a dedicated builder of bird-cages and a breeder of canaries and zebra finches and budgerigars.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
When I was 21 and socially backward, I observed that all women love to dance, and if I could just learn to dance I would be in. So I bought a book and taught myself to dance holding a pillow and following footprints in the book. I was right…..women wanted to dance with me, and this led to dates, and changed my whole social life.

Links:

Thanks, Ian!



Thursday, July 30, 2015

Interview with urban fantasy/paranormal thriller author R.L. King


Today's guest, R.L. King, is here to chat about her Alastair Stone Chronicles Series (Book 1: Stone and a Hard Place, and Book 2: The Forgotten).

During her virtual book tour, R.L. will be awarding a $40 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner's choice) to a 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.


Bio:
R. L. King is an award-winning author and game freelancer for Catalyst Game Labs, publisher of the popular roleplaying game Shadowrun. She has contributed fiction and game material to numerous sourcebooks, as well as one full-length adventure, "On the Run," included as part of the 2012 Origins-Award-winning "Runners' Toolkit."

Her first novel in the Shadowrun universe, Borrowed Time, was published in May 2015.

When not doing her best to make life difficult for her characters, King is a software technical writer for a large Silicon Valley database company. In her spare time (hah!) she enjoys hanging out with her very understanding spouse and her small herd of cats, watching way too much Doctor Who, and attending conventions when she can. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers' Association and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and a member of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.



Welcome, R.L. Please tell us about your current release.
My current release is The Forgotten, Book 2 of my urban fantasy series. Dr. Alastair Stone, British mage who moonlights as an Occult Studies professor at Stanford, meets a young man who’s looking for his missing sister, and together the two of them discover a conspiracy involving a malevolent supernatural enemy that has managed to infiltrate the world for several years while almost no one has caught on to its existence. The Forgotten is the first book of a trilogy-within-a-series, though each book is a fully self-contained story.

What inspired you to write this book?
Oddly, despite the fact that this is Book 2 in my series, the original version of it was the first one I wrote, several years ago. It was inspired in part by a Chuck Palahniuk short story about rich people who played a game where they pretended to be homeless to get away from their boring rich-people lives. The concept of homeless people who were more than they seemed intrigued me. Since I was looking for ideas for a book featuring Dr. Stone, I thought this one would work out well, and it did.


Excerpt from Stone and a Hard Place:
“Dr. Stone?”

The voice was trembling, female, and sounded terrified. It took him a moment to identify it. He stared as Megan stirred again, draping her arm back over him. “Mrs.—Bonham?”

Whoever was on the other end sounded like they were on the verge of hysteria. “Dr. Stone, is that you?”

“It’s me, Mrs. Bonham. What’s wrong? Is something wrong?” He sat up a little, propping himself up on his pillows. Megan’s arm slid down over his stomach, but he didn’t even notice that she was there.

“Something’s here,” she quavered. “Something’s…happening.”

He was fully awake now. Carefully, he moved Megan’s arm and sat on the edge of the bed. “Calm down, Mrs. Bonham, please. I’ll help you if I can, but you have to tell me what’s happening.”

“I don’t know,” she sobbed. “It’s like the whole house hates me. Noises—cold winds—things slamming—”

“Is Iona there? Can you put her on for a moment?”

There was a shuffling sound and then a different voice spoke, sounding almost as frightened as Adelaide Bonham had. “Dr. Stone? This is Iona.”

He took a deep breath. “Iona. What’s going on? Is Mrs. Bonham—”

“She’s not imagining things, Dr. Stone,” the woman said. In addition to sounding frightened, she sounded like she couldn’t believe what was going on. “I can hear them too. The noises. The feelings. It’s horrible, Dr. Stone. Something’s going on.”


What exciting story are you working on next?
The next book in the series is called The Threshold, and it continues the story begun in The Forgotten. Actually, the next three books in the series (for a total of five) are already finished and in various stages of editing. The project I’m working on now is another Stone Chronicles novel called Flesh and Stone, which sort of serves as Dr. Stone’s “origin story” and explains the circumstances under which he decided to relocate from England to the Bay Area.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I’ve considered myself something of a writer since I was a kid. I’ve always been pretty good at writing, and it was always a compulsion—I had to tell stories, or they’d bounce around in my head and drive me crazy. I began to consider myself a “real” writer when I finished my first novel. Even though it was fan fiction and I posted it on my website for free, it was still a solid, 130,000-word effort and people told me they enjoyed it.

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 full time—though I wish I could! Maybe some day if my series takes off and generates a good income, I might consider it, but since my day job is a technical writer for a large database company and I live in the Silicon Valley where prices are fairly insane, it wouldn’t be practical to quit. I fit my fiction writing and freelance work around my day job and spending time with my spouse and my cats, which usually means I write during lunch hours, after work, evenings, and weekends. When I’m actively working on a novel I write whenever I can, but then I have to take time off afterward to “recharge” before I can do it again. Fortunately my job allows me to telecommute, which saves me a lot of time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a really hard time writing on laptops, or in less than optimum conditions. I’ve never understood (though always envied!) how people could take their laptop down to the local Starbucks and spend the day typing away surrounded by people, or write while sitting in an airplane. I pretty much have to be alone when I’m writing, or I get distracted. The exceptions are that it’s okay for my spouse to be somewhere nearby as long as he’s busy with his own stuff, and I like it when one of my cats curls up on or near me. But no other people!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My mother used to tell me that when I was a very small child, I wanted to be an undertaker! I don’t remember that, but it sounds about right—I was a weird little kid. When I was somewhat older, I wanted to be a cartoonist, but that didn’t work out because I write a lot better than I draw.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I love hearing from readers! You can reach me on Twitter at @Dragonwriter11, or in email at rat@magespacepress.com. And a huge thank-you to every reader who bought one of my books, and to Lisa for letting me blather on her blog!

Links:

Buy link for Stone and a Hard Place (Book 1)
Buy link for The Forgotten (Book 2) 

Thanks, R.L.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


 


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Interview with humorous romance author D. E. Haggerty

We’re chatting with chick lit, humorous romance author D.E. Haggerty today. Among other things, D.E. is telling us a bit about her newest novel, Jack Gets His Man, book 2 of the Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives series.

During her virtual book tour, D.E. will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice) to a 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!

Welcome, D.E. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Wisconsin, but think I’m a European. After spending my senior year of high school in Germany, I developed a bad case of wanderlust that is yet to be cured. My flying Dutch husband and I have lived in Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, the Netherlands, Germany and now Istanbul. We still haven’t decided if we want to settle down somewhere – let alone where. I’m leaning towards somewhere I can learn to surf even though the hubby thinks that’s a less than sound way to decide where to live. Although I’ve been a military policewoman, a commercial lawyer, and a B&B owner, I think with writing I may have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. That’s assuming I ever grow up, of course. Between playing tennis, running much slower than I would like, trying to adopt every stray dog within a 5-mile radius, traveling to exotic new locales, singing off tune, drinking entirely too many adult beverages, addictively watching new movies and reading books like they are going out of style, I write articles for a local expat magazine and various websites, review other indie authors’ books, write a blog about whatever comes to mind and am working on my sixth book.

Wow. That’s quite a lot to take in!
Please tell us about your current release.
Jack Gets His Man is the second book in the three book series the Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives. This installment features the store of Jack. In the first book, Murder, Mystery & Dating Mayhem, Jack featured as the main character’s (Izzy’s) best friend. Now it’s time for Jack to get his own story. Jack owns a cross-dressing store together with his ex-lover. Jack’s having a tough time of it at the moment. His ex is being a pain in Jack’s fabulous behind, his new bookkeeper is smoking hot but Jack’s not allowed to date him and then it turns out that someone is playing fast and loose with the store’s money. Jack’s bestie and his gal pals, the gray-haired knitting detectives, jump at the chance to solve Jack’s problems. When they aren’t re-enacting scenes from spy thrillers, they’re setting Jack up on dates and generally insinuating themselves into his love life. They’re determined to find love for Jack as well as his missing money. Will Jack catch a thief or find love? Either way Jack’s going to get his man.

What inspired you to write this book?
When I wrote Murder, Mystery & Dating Mayhem, I wasn’t planning on doing a series. I just wanted to see if I could manage to write a funny chick lit novel. But I had such a fun time writing the book and then the reviews were really positive. Quite a few reviewers even suggested I wrote a book about Jack (who was a secondary character in Murder, Mystery & Dating Mayhem). I was having a good time and thought why not?


Excerpt from Jack Gets His Man:
The first candidate arrived promptly at 9:30 or at least his mom did. Danny ushered an elderly matron with a stern bun into Jack’s office and made a hasty retreat.
Jack just stared at her until Izzy cleared her throat and poked him in the ribs. “I’m sorry,” she said when Jack kept staring. “We were expecting someone named Fred. Is that you?”
The woman looked first at Jack and then at Izzy. “Of course that’s not me,” she snapped. “What kind of name is Fred for a woman?”
“Er.. um,” Izzy stumbled. “Do you know where Fred is?”
The woman rolled her eyes and harrumphed. “He’s in the bathroom. He always gets nervous at interviews.”
“Um. Okay,” Izzy was quick to respond when she saw Jack opening his mouth. Knowing Jack nothing appropriate was coming out of his mouth at the moment. “Can you have a seat outside while we conduct the interview?” Izzy could do prim and proper when necessary.
The woman gave Izzy the evil eye before turning on her heel and walking out. They never saw Fred.
Jack was licking his fingers when Danny ushered in the next candidate. “Hi!” the enthusiastic candidate nearly shouted. “I’m Tim!” That part was definitely shouted.
Jack and Izzy stood to shake the man’s hand. He swayed a bit as he leaned forward. Jack took a sniff, but didn’t smell anything untoward. Tim collapsed in his seat while Jack stared at his hand in disgust. Tim’s hands were sweaty. Jack’s mouth pulled tight in a grimace and his nose scrunched in displeasure.
“So Tim. Why do you want this job?” Izzy’s voice was overly enthusiastic in an attempt to bring Tim’s attention to her so he wouldn’t see Jack’s grimace. She need not have bothered. Tim had leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. When he didn’t respond, Izzy snapped her fingers. “Tim?”
He started. “Huh? What?”
“Have you been drinking?” Jack didn’t even bother to ask in a polite manner.
Tim shrugged. “Just a tiny drink to settle my nerves.”
Jack stood. “Okay. Thanks a lot for coming. We’ll be in touch.”
Tim looked confused but managed to struggle to his feet and lurch out of the door. Izzy was giggling uncontrollably by the time Jack sat back down. He snorted. “At least this isn’t boring.”
An hour later, Jack had changed his mind. Interviews #3 and #4 were tedious. Like he was going to hire someone wearing a gray, off-the-rack suit to work in his company. He laid his head on the table, careful not to mess up his hair, and turned pleading eyes to Izzy. “Can we please have lunch now?”
Izzy shook her head. “Nope, another interview before lunch.”
“I hate you,” Jack whispered as the door opened again. Danny ushered in a beautiful man and Jack perked up immediately. Izzy gave him a side-long glance but he ignored her. Things were looking up.
“This is Damien,” Danny said before backing slowly out of the office, eyes glued to the man candy that was Damien.
Izzy jumped up to shake his hand. Jack just stared until she kicked him in the shin. Then he stood up as well, but he looked like he was in a trance as he reached forward to shake Damien’s hand. Izzy had to cover her mouth to keep from giggling.
“So,” Izzy began once everyone had sat down and Jack had inspected Damien from top to toe. “Why do you want to work here?”
Damien turned his dazzling smile on Izzy and winked. “Seriously? This store is awesome.”
“Are you a cross-dresser?” Jack asked before Izzy had a chance to kick him again.
“No,” he shook his head. “But I think it’s great that someone is willing to have a store dedicated to cross-dressers in such a small town in Oklahoma of all places.”
“You do realize that a significant portion of the store’s income comes from the big and beautiful women’s section,” Izzy pointed out.
Damien waved his hand in dismissal of her objection. “But that’s great as well. Everyone should have good clothing options.” He looked at Jack for confirmation and Jack nearly took his head off nodding in agreement. Izzy had to stifle yet another laugh.
Jack cradled his head in his hands with his elbows on the table staring at Damien. Obviously it was up to Izzy to conduct this interview. “Tell us about your work experience.”
The interview lasted 30 minutes, but Jack couldn’t tell you one single thing that was said during that time. He was too busy trying to keep his drool from spilling out of his mouth. Izzy cleared her throat and Jack realized that everyone was standing. He quickly jumped to his feet and shook Damien’s hand, holding on for as long as possible. Damien gave him a megawatt smile before turning to leave.
Izzy collapsed in the chair and turned squinted eyes on Jack. “No.”
Jack flounced into his chair and decided to play innocent. “Whatever do you mean, my dear?” He might be overdoing the innocent thing.
8. What exciting story are you working on next?

I’m already busy with the third and final installment of the Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives series. It will be the knitting detectives toughest case yet – not only are there no obvious clues in this murder mystery but the accused murderer is Delilah, the granddaughter of one of the knitting detectives. Dee’s life is in shambles. She finally managed to pry herself from her husband’s clutches but now the man turns up dead and the police are pointing their fingers at Dee. As if she doesn’t have enough trouble trying to stay out of the slammer, the gray-haired knitting detectives decide that Dee being a widow is the perfect opportunity to find her a new man and put their matchmaking skills to use.

Writing life related:

9. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Oh man I struggle with this. Sometimes I’m still not ready to call myself a writer. I cringe when people ask me what I do for work and I say I’m a writer. I’m always waiting for someone to say No you’re not! With every book I write, Jack Gets His Man is my 5th, I gain more confidence in my writing abilities and this strange career we call being a writer.

10. 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?

Writing is my full-time ‘job’ but as a self-published author I unfortunately can’t spend all my time writing. I usually write for 3-4 hours first thing in the morning. After a break to work out or play tennis, I spend the afternoon answering emails, updating social media and other marketing necessities and working on my Readsalot blog. If I’m in the middle of a novel, however, I’m thinking about the story constantly and will often been seen flying out of the shower to run to my office to write down some crazy idea I just had.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
After spending a decade as a lawyer where everyone wrote and reviewed documents in the same way (track changes, different colored pens, etc.), I enjoy being quirky with my writing utensils. I’m completely obsessed with journals. I try to find colorful and fun journals whenever I get the chance. Once I start working on a novel, I dedicate a journal to the novel and put all my notes, research, outlines, etc. in the journal. On top of that I use sticky notes in all shapes, sizes, and colors to leave myself notes. When I’m editing a book, I move my office to the dining room table, which quickly fills with rows and rows of sticky notes. I can’t seem to escape my legal past, however, as I still use different colored pens and highlighters to make notes and edits.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was completely and totally obsessed with becoming a lawyer. Even though I’m interested in just about everything (I have a liberal arts degree in history, am a qualified diet consultant, and have nearly finished a master’s in international relations), I kept my eye on the prize – law school – throughout it all. I even went into the military for five years so that I could get the GI bill to help me finance law school. I freaking loved law school but I hated being a lawyer. I tried every branch of law I could think of before deciding to re-evaluate my career choice.

Links:

Thanks, D.E!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Interview with contemporary romance author C.C. Koen

Contemporary romance novel Unlikely Allies is the focus of today’s interview. Author C.C. Koen is in the hot seat to give us insight into her writing, why she enjoys writing romance, and she also has a giveaway.

During her virtual book tour, C.C. will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice) to a 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!

Bio:
C.C. Koen writes contemporary romance with a twist. An avid reader who enjoys mystery and suspense, her stories will never be what you expect. Determined to find adventure in her dreams and life, she enjoys skydiving, sailing and any activity that challenges her. Teacher by day, romance writer at night produce an active imagination that comes to life in her writing.

Welcome C.C. Please tell us about your current release, Unlikely Allies.
What happens when a single mom’s four-year-old daughter falls in love with Mr. Right and she doesn’t? Maggie Tyson’s rule: no bad boys. Her incarcerated ex-husband broke her of that attraction. Determined to not make the same mistakes, she has a mile-long list of dos and don’ts. When her daughter, Cecily wanders away from her and right into Rick Stone’s office, Maggie knows he’s the exact type she’s been trying to avoid. Rick Stone’s rule: bed them don’t wed them. Voted America’s most eligible bachelor, Rick doesn’t have any problems getting women into his bed—except one. Two auburn beauties stumble into his life. Will he love or leave them?

What inspired you to write this book?
Unlikely Allies
is my second novel. The story originated from a writing prompt posted in a critique group. I had no idea the prompt would turn into a novel. I’m so glad it did, because I absolutely love the premise of Unlikely Allies. There is nothing sweeter than a little girl who wraps a man around her finger.


Excerpt from Unlikely Allies:


“Cece, Cece, where are you?”
They both turned toward the door.
An adult version of the pint-sized girl appeared in the doorway. This variation, though, had hair on the cherry side of auburn with twists of milk chocolate streaming through the strands.  A messy ponytail slung high on top of her head, and thick, curly waves fell over her shoulder, instead of bright, reddish-orange pigtails like Cece’s.
“Cece, come here.” The woman’s stern tone communicated there better not be any arguments. Cece marched across the room. “My daughter shouldn’t have run off. I’m sorry if she disturbed you.”
A company logo and name written in gold script in a circular pattern above her left breast caught his attention: Westlake Security Services. His best friend, Matt, owned the firm adjacent to his office. She’d have to pass his suite to get there, yet he’d never seen her before. He inspected her uniform, a gray polo shirt and black slacks. An outfit he’d seen many times before, but it never looked that good on anyone else. The fabric, tucked in at her waist, had a cut that hugged her handful-sized breasts, and slim pants accentuated her curvy hips.
He lifted his gaze and found the woman ushering Cece out the door. “Wait.”
Cece turned, beaming a huge smile at him. “I would a told ya bye.” And just as fast, her little face morphed from happy to perturbed, aimed at her mother, and with her arms crossed, Cece shook her head.
Without missing a beat, and as smooth as his mother would have, the woman redirected Cece. “Say good night to Mr.…”
“Stone, Rick Stone.”
She set a hand on Cece’s shoulder, nudging her and casting a do-what-your-mother-says stare. “I have to get back to work. Say goodbye to Mr. Stone.”
“What’s your name?” He couldn’t let her get away that fast.
“Maggie.”
“Margareta Cassidy Tyson,” Cece shouted with emphasis, a pause between each distinction. “My mama works here.” She pointed toward the hall. “She plays on a phone and ʼputer. It got lotsa buttons.” She shook her head, pigtails flinging back and forth over one shoulder then the other, followed by an overdrawn sigh. “She don’t let me push ʼem. Don’t ya think I should get to push ʼem? He let me push his.” Cece looked up at her mother and shot her arm toward him, her shrugging shoulders communicating, “See, everybody can do it. No big deal.”
Rick chuckled and then stopped when Maggie spun around, hands set on her hips. He rubbed his palm along the back of his neck and shifted from one foot to the other as an uncomfortable silence engulfed the room. “Let me explain.”


What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently working on Serenity, which is the sequel to my first novel, Intensity. It was impossible to resolve the story in just one book. The characters, Serena and Linc, have a lot to resolve in order to reach a HEA.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I became a writer by accident. My first novel, Intensity came to me as a fantasy while I was driving to work one day. Driving can be boring and my mind often wanders. I have to admit the original story was very different from the finished tale. I wrote an article about the experience at Savvy Authors titled, Take Your Time, but Hurry Up! A Newbie Author Selfie

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 teach during the day and write in the evening hours. I’m an emotional writer and have to be in the right mindset. Sometimes life events and stress prevents me from focusing, and other times, writing helps clear my head. I never know from day to day what will happen, so I go with the flow and write as often as my brain allows me.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am often laying down when I write. I have back and shoulder issues, so sitting at a desk will only cause a great deal of pain. I generally have the TV on or music playing except when I am editing. When I revise, I read the chapter out loud and need complete silence then. I like to listen to the story and experience the flow.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I played school and liked to draw clothing a lot. I wanted to be a fashion designer or model, but that didn’t work out. In college I studied nursing for the first year and then switched to education. I’m so glad I did, because I enjoy the challenge of teaching. It keeps my brain and imagination very active.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I really enjoy reading suspense and mysteries. Therefore, there will always be some type of suspenseful event in my stories. I’d really like to write a suspense/thriller novel along the lines of Harlan Coben. I am fascinated by his stories and those of other suspense authors like Roxanne St. Claire. I enjoy the pace and the challenge of trying to figure out who done it. 

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Interview with historical romance author Olivia Fields

Today’s guest is Olivia Fields. She’s in the hot seat to talk about her historical romance, Her Heart’s Liege.

While Olivia does her virtual book tour, she’s going to be giving away a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice) to a lucky randomly drawn person. 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!

Bio:
For years, college professor Olivia Fields has been writing romantic tales to pacify her muse and entertain her friends. She believes in making her characters work for their happy endings.

When not at her keyboard, Olivia enjoys nature hikes, photography, and the constant companionship of several rather irregularly trimmed dogs.

Welcome, Olivia. Please tell us about your current release.
Her Heart’s Liege is a fun, action-packed tale in the Arthurian tradition of knights, battles, and chivalry, except that it flips the conventional gender roles and features a responsible female knight/guardian who is tasked with protecting an exasperating, irresponsible prince. 

The reader gets to enjoy watching both the heroine and her unlikely hero as they are tempered in the forge of adventure, political intrigue, and invasion. Events conspire to help them realize their potential as leaders, fighters, and of course, romantic partners. 

What inspired you to write this book?
I was watching a medieval swords and heroes movie and thinking how many of them are sausage fests. The one woman in the movie talked about adventure, but all she actually did was scream and get herself in trouble (by leaving the custody of male protectors) so she had to be rescued by men (and returned to the custody of male protectors). I looked around and saw all the little girls sitting in the theater drinking in that kind of female role model. I decided I wanted to provide an alternative, in the relatively rare tradition of women like Joan of Arc, Leia Organa, or possibly Brienne of Tarth.


Excerpt from Her Heart’s Liege:
When Alex finally went up, she found Prince Holden squinting into the cloudy tin mirror hanging on the room's wall, working to neaten his beard a bit with his razor. Trimming himself evenly appeared to be an uphill battle, one in which he was achieving limited success at best. He'd bathed, but he hadn't bothered with a shirt, though he'd put his breeches on.
She could feel the weight of his gaze even though her eyes were covered, and hoped her pose couldn't be construed as a provocative one, but she refused to move.
"Alex, I want to return to Norwich." His voice was steady and resolute.
"So do I." She left her arm over her face. "I'm afraid it isn't my choice to make."
He chewed on that for a moment. "No, I suppose not." His voice was thoughtful. "I suppose it isn't."
His tone alarmed her. She moved her arm and peered at him suspiciously. "It isn't yours, either. Your father wanted me to take you west. I'll do as ordered, if I have to bind you and haul you in the bed of the wagon."
"I'll arm wrestle you again. You win? We go west. I win? We go east." He looked at her evenly.
She considered the wager, remembering the ease with which he'd lifted those buckets, estimating the new strength of his sword-arm. "I think not." She might still beat him, with luck. But then again…
He chuckled, and she felt a flare of irritation.
"I'll wrestle you for a lesser bet," she snapped without thinking, and he tilted his head, raising a brow.
"That's a deal." He rose, moving to pull the room's single small table away from the wall and over to the bed. There wasn't much space, and there was only one straight chair; he had to sit on the bed, leaving the chair to her. "What will you wager?"
"What is there to wager?" Their money, the wagon, the lodgings, the weapons, and even their food were all community property.
"A kiss." He challenged her with his eyes.
"You haven't changed at all." Alex rolled her gaze to the heavens. This was madness.
"I wouldn't agree." He put his elbow on the table, flexing his fingers. "Do you accept the wager?"
She wondered if she could still beat him. They'd both be motivated to do their best, she was certain. "No."
 "You're afraid I'll beat you." His eyes were hot, and his mouth curved upward.
 "I'm afraid we're well-matched enough one of us will hurt the other."
 "You're afraid to kiss me."
 "I don't want to kiss you. There's a difference."
 "You'd chance the contest if you weren't afraid."
 He knew how to get under her skin, no doubt. She scowled at him.
 "After all the times you've thrashed me with your wooden sword." How did he manage to advance on her even when he remained seated and unmoving? She had no idea. But the more she dithered, the worse her authority suffered.
Furious, she slammed herself down in the seat. "Fine. Let's get it over with."
He clasped her hand, moving rather more slowly and deliberately than she liked. He moved his left hand to grip hers. She scowled at him, settling into position, planning her strategy. She could use her nails to aggravate the healing blisters on his hands, but that wouldn't be sporting. She'd have to take the advantage early and never let him recover.
"Ready?" he asked, voice soft.
"Ready." She wasn't. She drew a deep breath.
"I'll count down. Three. Two. One."
She set her shoulder, prepared for the force of his initial push, anticipating his strength. He was more powerful than she'd feared. His brow creased, and he held her first counter-surge.
She wasn't going to win.
She fought him valiantly, but she didn't have his weight, and he'd been working hard. Their hands quivered, and her muscles started to burn.
His eyes darted up to hers. She saw anticipation of victory there, along with surprise and pleasure.
She would have to cheat.


What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve just sent my second novel to my publisher (and am already working on a second novel in that universe). It’s a paranormal romance about a reluctant, shy incubus and his struggle to come to terms with his identity as a predator, forced to take sexual energy from human women in order to survive. 

Early in life he preyed on a woman without thinking and accidentally drained her to death.  This traumatized him so much he stays isolated and only takes what he has to in order to survive. After centuries of this, though, he’s made a critical error: he slipped up and fell in love.

Before the incubus can leave his love to ensure her safety, an ancient enemy surfaces, determined to take revenge for that long-ago death. He traps the incubus in a situation where is he can’t help but drain and kill the woman he loves. A globe-spanning adventure ensues as the couple races against time to find a way to for her to survive their relationship.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t know how to answer this. Am I a writer? What is a writer? What makes one a writer? If it’s just writing because you want to even when you don’t have to, I’ve been one since second or third grade. If it’s writing what you love in defiance of various authority figures who don’t want you to write that, I’ve been one since junior high school, and there’s no end in sight. If it’s writing for money, I’ve been one since my middle twenties, when I landed a brief job as a newspaper correspondent. If it’s using writing as your sole source of income, then who knows if I’ll ever become a writer?

I’m thinking of an episode of Family Guy where Lois comes in holding a newspaper article Brian wrote and compliments him, saying it’s so well done it’s almost like he’s a real writer! Brian just stares at her, kind of like I’m staring at this question. 

Maybe I’ve been a writer ever since I was conceived. I was just waiting to be taught language skills and develop enough manual dexterity to wield a pencil or use a keyboard.

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 have the luxury of writing full-time, unfortunately. I have a very demanding day job that involves lots of contact with very demanding clients and huge amounts of paperwork. I have to squeeze my writing in around the edges. Living in the world of my writing makes me feel very much as if I have a secret, second life that none of my co-workers or clients knows about!

On a typical day I’ll get up a couple of hours early, full of fresh ideas, and if I don’t have paperwork I have to complete before a looming deadline, I’ll work on my latest story until I have to shower and go to my day job. I’ll work my day job for anywhere from 7 to 13 hours before dragging home, exhausted, to tend to the business side of my writing. Usually in the evenings I tackle the less creatively demanding work of publicity, editing, and similar tasks. Then I fall into bed, exhausted, to get ready to wake up and do it all over again!

I am a single woman with dogs rather than children. If not for that, there’s no way I’d be able to write. I am amazed by people who can balance a family and children with the kind of time and dedication it takes to be a writer. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When writing, I quietly throw in dozens, if not hundreds, of cultural references. I use small isolated statements, pieces of clothing, or items from favorite television shows, books, and movies. Sometimes I borrow a location or have in mind a particular person (either from real life or an actor) to play a character. These things help spark my creativity, give the story a feeling of fullness, and sometimes push the story in interesting directions I didn’t anticipate.

T. S. Eliot practiced this kind of technique in his poems, and he gave me the idea. He felt it provides a mosaic effect that makes a writer’s work more texturally interesting. He believed if you have a fragment from another work of art in your own writing, then the entire artwork is implicit in, and becomes a part of, your own writing. That can make your work a broader and deeper reading experience both for you and for the audience (especially if a reader subconsciously recognizes the reference). Using well-known fragments can help you conjure a very specific and detailed mood.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I wanted to be a helicopter pilot! One of the strong female characters who inspired me early in life was on the short-lived cop show 240 Robert, on which Joanna Cassidy, better known as Eddie Valiant’s girlfriend in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, portrayed a tough, no-nonsense lady who piloted a chopper in a search and rescue operation designed to catch crooks and get accident victims to safety. I was enchanted by the idea that a girl could do that kind of thing. Also, the woman knew how to rock an awful orange jumpsuit.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Don’t let someone else crush your life’s deepest, most passionate dreams. There will probably always be someone there to say “you can’t/shouldn’t follow them.” Do it anyway.

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