Friday, December 9, 2016

Interview with historical fiction writer Andrew Joyce

Author Andrew Joyce is here today and we’re chatting about his historical fiction, Yellow Hair.

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups (as-yet unpublished), and his latest novel, Yellow Hair. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mick Reilly.

Please tell us about your current release.
Through no fault of his own, a young man is thrust into a new culture just at the time that culture is undergoing massive changes. It is losing its identity, its lands, and its dignity. He not only adapts, he perseveres and, over time, becomes a leader—and on occasion, the hand of vengeance against those who would destroy his adopted people.

Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage written about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in this fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for the book came to me when I was reading a short article and it made reference to the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862. It also mentioned that the outcome involved the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. That piqued my interest.

When I started my research into the incident, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was documenting the entire history of the Sioux, who are also known as the Dakota, vis-à-vis the relationship between them and the United States.

Excerpt from Yellow Hair:
On a gray and overcast December morning in 1862, the scaffold stood high. Thirty-eight nooses hung from its crossbeams. The mechanism for springing the thirty-eight trap doors had been tested and retested until it worked perfectly. At exactly noon, a signal was given, a lever pulled, and the largest mass execution to ever take place in the United States of America became part of our history.

What exciting story are you working on next?
A novel about three generations of Irish, whose patriarch immigrates to America in 1840.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
One morning, about six years ago, I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window. Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. And just for the hell of it, I threw it up on a writing site. A few months later, I was informed that it had been selected for publication in an anthology of the best short stories of 2011. I even got paid for it. 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 know if I’d call it full-time (I’m rather indolent), but writing is what puts bread on the table and beer in the fridge. I have no other job.

I prefer to write in the early morning hours when things are quiet. I usually get up around 2:00 a.m. and go to work. The commute is not long . . . only a few steps to my computer.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know how to type. I hunt and peck with two fingers. I’ve written almost one million words that way.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I never thought about it. I kind of figured I’d worry about that when I grew up—and I’m still waiting.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I would just like to thank you for having me over. It’s been a real pleasure.

Website | Amazon

Thanks for being here today, Andrew!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Interview with writer Patricia Steffy

Writer Patricia Steffy is with me today. We’re chatting about My Letter to Fear: Essays on Life, Love and the Search for Prince Charming. It’s a non-fiction work / multi-person memoir.

During her virtual book tour, Patricia will be awarding one $50 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!

Patricia Steffy attended Kenyon College and American University. She is a recent refugee from the corporate world where she worked as an analyst for a law firm for more than 16 years. An escape plan started to develop as she pursued her interests as a writer and producer through Circe’s World Films. She has been involved in co- and exec-producing a number of feature and short films ranging from broad comedy to psychological drama, including the award-winning short Touch. She is currently developing Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths as a web series. The series is based on her long-running blog of the same name.
Pieces from My Letter to Fear were featured in a one-night only special showcase event. The showcase was directed by Danielle Turchiano and featured readings from Nikki DeLoach (Awkward.), Lesley Fera (Pretty Little Liars), Stevie Lynn Jones (Crisis), Jen Lilley (Days of Our Lives), Roma Maffia (Pretty Little Liars), Dennisha Pratt (The Sunny Side Up Show), and Carla Renata (Hart of Dixie). You can see excerpts from the readings here:

Welcome, Patricia. Please share a little bit about your current release.
My Letter to Fear is a collection of essays based on interviews I did with women over the course of two years. I allowed the interviews to shape the book. The published collection covers a wide range of topics, including beauty myths, aging, abuse, rape, unmet life expectations, dating and more. Even though most of the experiences in the book are not my own, I wrote it from a unified perspective. And because I'm me, even some of the pieces that are quite serious have hints of humor, and the very funny (even ridiculous ones) have a hint of a more serious reality behind them.

What inspired you to write this book?
I had been writing a blog at the time called “Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths.” It started out focused on dating and starting over in Los Angeles, but quickly became more about being a woman, who is over a certain age, in a city that is largely focused on youth, beauty and success. Some of the early pieces in the book are reworked pieces from the blog.

Over time, I realized that there really were the makings of a series in those pieces, but I wanted to go beyond my own experiences. At the same time, I was talking to a friend of mine, who is a therapist, about a tool that is sometimes used. Basically, clients are asked to write a letter addressing a particular issue (addiction, anxiety, fear, etc.). The idea of writing letters to fear and expectations (and so on) really appealed to me. It was a great jumping off point for me, and it certainly got the process started.

A few early pieces were read as part of staged reading by a group of fabulous actresses for a charity event. It was a thrill to see an audience react to the pieces, and I had a lot of people come up to me after the reading and ask about where they could get the full collection. It was the push I needed to keep going – although I'll admit it took another 17 months and 45-50 new pieces (40 of which made the final collection) to finish it.

Excerpt from My Letter to Fear: Essays on Life, Love and the Search for Prince Charming:

From The Moment
Do we all long for that moment when our secret selves are finally seen and applauded? Are we all waiting for the moment where our exes rue the day they let us go? Do we all pine for that life-changing second where the world says, "How could we have missed you all this time?"

I think about it all the time now – with every stranger I see, from the person sitting alone in a restaurant to the person singing at the top of their lungs while driving because they are convinced that their car is sound-proofed. I see them. I recognize them.

I'm still waiting for my moment, of course. But if you see me hiding behind a plant, clutching a drink and looking lost at some social gathering I couldn't get out of, know that inside I'm putting on one hell of a show.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm about to take a film script out that actually found its core in one of the pieces in “My Letter to Fear.” It's a drama and covers a very current topic, and I think that's all I'm allowed to say about it. Hopefully, I can say more soon.

I also wrote a 10-episode web series based on the blog that also inspired “My Letter to Fear.” The series “Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths” starts in the same way the blog did – a woman who is no longer 22, finds herself starting over again in Los Angeles after a long-term relationship ends. It deals with the insane social scene in Los Angeles, and also the challenges facing people as they confront the expectations they once had for their lives (a topic that is also covered in the book). You can see the sizzle reel for it here: I'm a huge fan of Lesley Fera, Jen Lilley, Tamara Taylor and Kris Polaha – and their willingness to take on this project at such an early stage was enormously helpful and encouraging.

The next book is also in the planning stages. It will be fiction. It will be a comedy (largely), and it uses the piece Lost Folk Hero from “My Letter to Fear” as its central idea. I'm excited and more than a little nervous about this new project. Creatively, it's a good next step!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That's a good question! I'm not sure. It might have been the first time I heard my work read in front of an audience. It was certainly an inspiring event that pushed me to keep going. Certainly, when I was going out to actors to film the pilot/sizzle reel, I had to take a deep breath and prepare myself for actors/agents/managers to say no to the work. Luckily, the response was overwhelmingly positive, and I got to see my words in action (at least a small portion of them).

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?
That's complicated. I do write full-time, but not always on creative projects. When I'm not working on scripts or starting a new book, I'm a travel writer. You can see some of my pieces here: I also do quite a bit of travel web writing as my “day job.” It has been challenging to try to balance writing for someone else's goals and writing for my own. I'm getting better at it, but only because I've created a real intention for myself to value my work and my creative time. I'm not saying there aren't times when I still have to put other people's projects ahead of my own – there are. But I need to remind myself that my creative pursuits are why I went down this independent path in the first place.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I work best in a dark-ish room with rain sounds playing. Yeah, it's sort of strange, but I find myself easily distracted. I need to lose myself in what I'm writing in order to find the flow of it. I find that only happens when the other elements of my surroundings are lessened. I live in Southern California, and the odds of having an actual rain storm are not in my favor, so YouTube rain sounds did the trick! I even had a sounds device (rain, waves, thunder, etc.) I used for a while.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a detective, a spy, a doctor and a writer. I think I chose to be a writer, in part, because that way, through my characters, I can still be all of those things.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you so much for giving a non-fiction, multi-person memoir a chance. It's not an easy category. It's not something that sings from the shelf. But I think you'll find yourself relating to many of the stories and connecting with the women who experienced them. I know I did.

Website | Twitter | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Diesel | Smashwords

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Thank you for having me!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

New interview with romance author Faye Hall

I’m happy to welcome author Faye Hall back to the blog. Today we’re chatting about her new historical interracial romance, Deceit & Devotion.

In July, Faye and I talked about her steamy romantic suspense novel Shrouded Passions.

Murder, lies, deception, and love set in the outback under the Australian sun.

These are the stories of Faye Hall.

Her passion driven, mystery filled books are set in North Queensland, Australia during the development of the townships at the end of the 19th century.

Each of her novels bring something symbolically Australian to her readers, from Aboriginal herbal remedies, to certain gemstones naturally only found in this part of the world.

Each of her books tell of a passionate connection between the hero and heroine, surrounded and threatened by deceit, scandal, theft and sometimes even murder.

These romances swerve from the traditional romances as Faye aims to give her readers so much more intrigue, whilst also revealing the hidden histories of rural townships of North Queensland.

Faye finds her inspiration from the histories of not only the township she grew up in, but the many surrounding it. She also bases most of her characters on her own ancestors and their adventures when first migrating to Australia.

Faye was able to live her own passion driven romance, marrying the love of her life after a whirlwind romance in 2013. Together they are raising their 9 children in a remote country town in northern Queensland, Australia.

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Faye. Please tell us about your newest release. Deceit & Devotion explores the scandalous world of a young Australian aboriginal man, Jarrah, who has been hired to seduce a wealthy white woman, Emily, so her husband can take claim of her wealth and properties. A relationship develops between Jarrah and Emily, and she ends up hiring him to investigate her husband and his murderous past, as well as his connection to her father’s death and the missing black opal collection she was to inherit.

There’s plenty of passion, suspense as well as a lot about the medicines and remedies of the Australian Aboriginals that can be found in this seductive story.

What inspired you to write this book?
My husband suggested to me quite some time ago that it would be interesting (and scandalous) if I were to write a story involving an interracial couple set in our Australian history. It’s not something I have done before so writing this book was an interesting journey for me.

What’s the next writing project?
I have a release Amorous Redemption, due out in May next year. I’m also working on Heart of Stone, a story about an Australian Slave trader who fall in love with an Irish slave.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
I tend to always need to have accurate historical names for ships, hotels and so on in my books so usually my biggest challenge is finding that information.

If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
I love history and am very familiar with the historical facts about the towns I write in due to my own family research. That said I do struggle finding some facts – such as street names, and names of businesses – as a lot of the documentation can’t be found. I spend a lot of time looking through family history books to find the information I need because it’s not as easy as a ‘google search’. Hence some stories take longer to write then others as I research as I go, so can be quite a few interruptions.

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
I have a rather large desk with my computer on. I would love to say it’s spotless apart from the computer, but in truth it’s cluttered with notebooks and stationery and gifts from my children. But it’s comforting for me so I write well most days.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I’ve always love Amanda Quick books! But I equally enjoy To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Just thank you massively to all my readers and supporters and I really hope I can keep you intrigued in my books for many years to come.

Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Interview with contemporary novelist TS O'Neil

Author TS O’Neil is here today. We’re talking about his new action and adventure novel, Mexican Hat Trick.

During his virtual book tour, TS 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 his other tour stops and enter there, too!

TS O’Neil graduated with Honors from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts with a Degree in Criminal Justice and graduated with High honors from the University of Phoenix with a Master’s in Business Administration in Technology Management. He served as a Rifleman with the Marine Corps Reserve, an Officer in the Military Police Corps of the United States Army, and retired from the Army of the United States (AUS) as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2012. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. TS is currently employed as a Senior Security Consultant, specializing in Information Security. He lives in Seminole, FL with his beautiful wife, Suzanne. He has written four books, Tampa Star, Starfish Prime, Mudd’s Luck, and Mexican Hat Trick.

Welcome, TS. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Mexican Hat Trick is the fourth book in the Blackfox Chronicles. In this book, Eidetic Eddie Doyle, a retired Police Detective, and Private Investigator heads to Mexico to investigate an apparel counterfeiting case and finds a dead informant instead. Eddie has appeared in all of my novels and is a favorite character for many readers. He has an eidetic or photographic memory and is, therefore, good at solving mysteries.

What inspired you to write this book?
In a former life, I used to be a corporate security director involved in trademark anti-counterfeiting work. I was responsible for all of Latin America and I had a small group of private Investigators that worked for me. We used to do undercover operations, and we were able to orchestrate the seizures of loads counterfeit jeans and other apparel. We worked in concert with federal and state investigative agencies in places like Colombia and Mexico to seize counterfeit goods and shut down the factories that produced them. It was an interesting job, and I thought I would share a fictionalized version of the experiences with my readers.

Excerpt from Mexican Hat Trick:
Chapter Four - Eddie Doyle

O’Bannon thought the mission was important enough to dispatch his personal jet to take Eddie to Torreon. The jet had just reached a preliminary cruising altitude and the young male flight attendant returned with his cocktail. The kid’s name tag said, Josh. He sported a diamond earring and blue tinted hair, apparently having not yet realized that both affectations were career limiting.

Eddie sat back in the jet’s plush leather seat and relaxed—his PI business had taken him to some interesting places, but this is the first time he had graced the passenger compartment of a Gulfstream G650. He took a sip of his Belvedere Vodka and Tonic served in a heavy crystal glass and smiled. A fella could get used to this, he thought.

He had been called ‘Eidetic Eddie’ since joining the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department half a lifetime ago. His uncanny ability to remember minor details about crimes over time helped solved many cases. Like the time, he was called to investigate a streetwalker’s death—apparently due to a hit and run. Eddie found a small silver dollar sized welt on the woman’s forehead with two tiny puncture wounds from which Eddie retrieved an even tinier red ruby. Years previous during a police roll call, Eddie, then a patrolman, had sat through a briefing about a violent pimp who carried a cane with a gold skull on the handle that sported two raised ruby eyes. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Eddie could have used his skill to be anything he wanted to be, but nothing excited him as much as catching a perp. He had a 100% clearance rate for major crimes, and his reputation was well known throughout Pinellas County. One wanted felon serial burglar presented himself for arrest after learning that Eddie had been asking around about him, famously announcing, “If Eddie is on your tail, you might as well turn yourself in.”

His most famous case involved a local mafia capo known as Sally Boots. Eddie had spent the better part of his career trying to bring the mobster to justice, finally bringing him down in a hail of gunfire as Sally committed suicide by cop. Eddie had become acquainted with Char and Michael Blackfox during that period. Char had conspired with Sally to rob a casino boat loaded with gold. Honor among thieves being what it is, Sally double-crossed his co-conspirators in order to abscond with the loot. It was hidden before he could do so and lay undisturbed for over thirty years—until Char and Michael returned to recover it. They had appropriated Sally’s eighty-foot yacht in the process and escaped with over a million dollars in gold coins. Eddie had almost caught them in the process but had to settle for shooting Sally Boots to death.

Char and Michael had managed to receive state pardons for all past misdeeds. Eddie was never sure of the predicate actions that engendered the pardon, except that it involved Michael’s military expertise—he being a former officer in Marine Force Recon and it took place somewhere in South America. He and Char were returning to the U.S. via the Keys after several years of traveling the Caribbean, in the aforementioned yacht, ironically renamed the Good as Gold. During that time, Michael had fallen in love with Sophia, a Colombian doctor, whose was callously murdered by an Irish hitman she had treated for a grievous stab wound.

Michael and Char sought revenge and hired Eddie to assist in the effort. Past adversaries became allies and then fledging friends. Michael was a good man thrust into a difficult situation by his father, a guy known for playing fast and loose with the law—at least, in the past. Now in his early sixties, Char had rekindled a relationship with his ex-wife, and they were both presumably, living the good life as owners of an art gallery in Key West. Both of these men were good to have on your side in a firefight. Anything short of that, however, proved challenging. Their training had made them both ball peen hammers, perpetually in search of nails—lacking in the finer arts of dialogue and diplomacy, but effective at hammering the shit out of things.

Eddie finished a drink, and the steward brought him another. “It’s another two hours to Torreon—might as well have another. Lunch will be served in a short while. Medallions of Beef in a sauce of red wine and mushrooms with fingerling potatoes. It’s from the flight kitchen, but it’s usually pretty tasty,” said Josh.

Eddie nodded, unsure of what to say. “Better than what I had planned.”

“Yeah, the pilot told me to make sure you’re comfortable, so let me know if you’re not.” Josh retreated to the galley. He was right--the food turned out to be pretty good. He drank some strong Italian coffee after dinner and felt relatively sober upon landing. There was a car waiting for him planeside—the formalities of immigration and customs apparently dispensed with via proxy. Eddie turned on his phone and sorted through the voicemail messages. He listened to the call from O’Bannon and returned it.

O’Bannon didn’t mince any words. “The guy you were supposed to meet turned up dead.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m thinking of writing a dystopian Sci-Fi novel about the earth after a disaster befell it—a comet or something. A group of survivors—some military and government officials, try to reconstitute the government, but to do so, they have to journey to Alaska using no modern technology.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Although I’ve written four novels, I still don’t consider myself a writer as I’ve yet to be able to earn enough to consider myself a professional 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?
No, I don’t write full time. I’m actually a Cyber Security consultant for a full-time occupation and like to do woodworking projects in my spare time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I had to ask my wife. We came to the following conclusion: In all my books, I like to write about food. In lots of books, you might read that the character sat down to eat, but in my books, you’ll read what he or she actually ate, how it was prepared and perhaps whether it was any good. I believe that a writer should try and appeal to as many senses as possible.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up wanting to be a Special Agent, like my father. I was planning on going into the F.B.I. and my father arranged for an interview as he was a career Special Agent with the Intelligence Division; now called the Criminal Investigations Division of the IRS. I was offered a job as a Fingerprint Examiner; an entry level position that would have allowed me to eventually become a Special Agent, but I would have had to move to Washington and live like a serf, so I turned down the position.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Please buy my first book, Tampa Star, and that will hook you in the series.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Interview with Americana author Sig Schmalhofer

Author Sig Schmalhofer is visiting today to talk about his two Americana books, Jelly Beans in Life and Jelly Beans in Life 2, Trails.

Welcome, Sig. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Complete bio available in my website. But, in short, I am a baby boomer/business owner who is very much like the main character. Since I majored in English, my dream was always to become a writer. Now that my kids are taking over much of the business activities, I am fulfilling my dream.

Please tell us about your current release.
The Jelly Bean series of books takes place in the eighties. The main characters are Larry, a Reagan loving salesman and his wife Susan, who is a liberal English teacher who is also a councilwoman in a small California town. There are personal conflicts aplenty and clever resolutions. My reviews on Amazon are exceptional.

What inspired you to write these books?
I am driven to make a mark on the world that will live beyond my life. Books are a wonderful legacy. Like everyone, the story of my life is interesting; perhaps not spectacular…but interesting. I’ve been fortunate to meet many people. Some eccentric, some crazy and some that inspire head shaking. I’ve integrated many personalities into fictional characters created to make readers smile, laugh or cry. Personal experiences and imagination has created a series of books that, apparently, are appealing, motivating and inspirational.

Excerpt from Jelly Beans in Life 2, Trails-Chapter 20, Page 193
“As they drove down Wood Road, a tumbleweed broadsided the Caravan, undoubtedly doing damage to the paint on the van’s side. Susan commented, ‘It looks like our trail will be filled with surprises today.’

‘Welcome to my world. Life as a salesman on the road is jam-packed with detours and unscheduled stops, but there are hidden opportunities around each bend, if we can just find a clever angle. There are actually times that the opportunities are discovered after we stop looking for them.’

Susan rolled her eyes, ‘So, Mr. Larry Schafer, president of the internationally acclaimed firm known as Connection Sales. You have the amazing ability to connect dots without even attempting to join them? The dots just fly around the universe and miraculously connect to their match?’

‘I’m pretty sure we met exactly that way.’”

What exciting story are you working on next?
Jelly Beans in Life 3 and Reputable Rep 2.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I typed the last word of the last sentence of the last paragraph of the final chapter in Jelly Beans in Life. That was a memorable moment!

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 65. I have worked 50 consecutive years without ever being out of a job. Many years I worked two jobs. I am now the Chairman of the board of a small company (42 employees). My duties are 2-fold-

1-Continuing to build relationships with the decision-making people in our business.

2-Acting as a human GPS that makes sure we are traveling down roads that lead to the destination we’re aspiring to reach.

When I’m not involved in those things, I’m either spending time with friends, family (3-children. 7 grandchildren), golfing with long time buddies OR…writing!

Yes, I’m busy! I’ve now written 3 books in 3 years. The hope is to do more writing and less working, but I will always be involved in the business.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My writing has a natural rhythm. I like to write listening to music that creates a mood and rhythm. When I am in a “zone”, I lose all sense of time and place. The characters take over the story and magically do what they are inclined to do. For me, that’s writing magic!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A baseball player. Later in my life I found out why that would never be possible. At age 42 I was diagnosed with a genetic disease, Muscular Dystrophy. I talk about this challenge in Chapter 1 of my book The Reputable Rep and my main character, Larry, deals with it in Jelly Beans in life 2, Trails.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I write to bring joy to myself and my readers. Writing is my avocation not my vocation.

Thanks for visiting, Sig!