Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Interview with non-fiction writer A. William Benitez

Non-fiction writer A. William Benitez is back on Reviews and Interviews. This time he's talking about his newest book, Relationship: Notes on Love, Mutual Respect,Boundaries, Marriage, and Divorce.

During this virtual book tour, Bill will be awarding 1 lucky commenter a $50 Amazon gift card. 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!

Welcome, Bill. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
For more than 30 years I have operated one-person businesses. Twelve years of my life were spent managing federally-assisted housing programs for local government.

I established a small publishing company to publish the books and a monthly newsletter and did consulting and public speaking on housing related topics for agencies and organizations in cities across the country. I wrote and published nine guidebooks on the subject of housing rehabilitation.

When the federal housing programs dried up I owned and operated a woodworking business for over twenty years, first in Tampa, Florida and then in Austin, Texas. During these years I began writing books about my experiences.

In 2007 I established my present publishing company, Positive Imaging, LLC. To date I have published sixteen paperback books and over a half dozen e-books.
My computer experience dates back almost twenty years and began in response to poor technical support for our computer. I used home study to acquire A+ and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer Certifications.

I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida and moved to Austin, Texas in 1986, where I now live with my wife, Barbara Frances.

Please tell us about your current release.
When I decided to write this book on relationship, my wife Barbara was surprised and cautioned me by saying that she would not dare write such a book because it was such a varied topic with so many nuances. That scared me because she is certainly more qualified to write about relationship than I am. I hesitated for a while but then I jumped in.

I have written about relationship before but was not satisfied with the results but now, for some unknown reason, I felt ready to tackle this huge topic and feel good about this book. I don’t see myself as an expert on relationship but I definitely have a lot to share that may be helpful to others.

The book contains ten chapters including What is Love, What is A Good Relationship, Fostering and Nurturing Relationships, Harming Relationships, Mutual Respect, Boundaries, Marriage, Breakups and Divorce, Helpful Tips, Final Thoughts, plus a Preface and an Introduction.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write this book some fifteen years ago when my wife and I were asked to talk to a group about our marriage experience. They wanted to know how we managed to get along so well. We made the presentation and everyone enjoyed it and there were many questions. I felt it would be a good subject for a book and I tried to do it several times but was dissatisfied with the outcome. Finally this year it came together and I wrote it.

Excerpt:
Mutual Respect

After several conversations about respect I realized there might be some confusion regarding its exact meaning. It seemed like a good idea to address that confusion and settle on a clear definition of respect before writing this chapter. This turned out to be a task that was much easier said than done. It seemed that mutual respect would be an “I’ll know it when I see it topic,” and that just wasn’t good enough. I thought about it for a while and decided that I needed to look back to my past and do a little research before coming up with a meaning with which I was comfortable.

My first lessons in respect came from my father who commanded respect from everyone who knew him. He strongly believed that you never allowed anyone to take advantage of you or your family. He told me that, if anyone did attempt to take advantage or put you down, the immediate response had to hurt enough to ensure they would never do it again. Few people tried to take advantage of him, and no one did it twice. That may be a form of respect, but it seemed to cross over into fear and it didn’t seem a good lesson for mutual respect in intimate relationships.

As I looked back, many situations with family, friends, acquaintances, flirtations, and partners came to mind. Some were pleasant and definitely reflected mutual respect while others not so much. It was obvious there were many times when I could have been more respectful and brought about a better outcome. Even though no one can change the past, it can be a source of valuable lessons and helped to write a definition of mutual respect to share with others.

All those experiences over the years gave me many ideas about respect and by adding a small amount of research I realized that mutual respect had various meanings. Based on all of this effort I was able to develop a definition and when this book mentions respect it is based on that specific definition. I couldn’t come up with a short definition so here is a list that defines respect for my partner and others.

Regard your partner with consideration, appreciation, and acceptance just as she is, not as you believe she should be.

Accept and value your partner’s point of view even if it differs from yours.

Honor your partner’s right to privacy by not intruding, interfering, or spying.


What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m not working on a book right now even though I have several topic ideas. I have decided to focus on marketing my existing books for the rest of the year.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials asked me to write a book on housing I felt certain that I was a writer. This was when I first started writing and their request helped my confidence.

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 because I have a full time job as the IT Manager for a Hyatt Hotel. I write mostly in the afternoons, evenings, and on weekends. Since I love to write it’s not difficult to make time for it. What is difficult is to make time for marketing which is definitely not as enjoyable but just as necessary.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m fortunate that I can write even with interruptions. I can be in the middle of something and stop and then come back to the same place and move right on. It’s a real blessing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an artist. I did well in art classes in school but I never developed it. I do have good design skills and design my own covers and handle some myself using Photoshop.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope that many of them will comment as I enjoy sharing with others and it would be a unique opportunity to discuss this subject.

All the information in this book is based on my first-hand experiences, a small amount of research, and discussions with other couples. I sincerely hope that you will find it of real value in your own relationships. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at: bill@positive-imaging.com

Thanks, Bill! Readers, don't forget about the giveaway! Use the form below to enter.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Interview with humor mystery author Tristi Pinkston

Today's special guest is humor/mystery-female sleuths author Tristi Pinkston. She's talking about her newest novel Taking the Floor, the third book in her Estelle Watkins mysteries series, and other fun things.

Bio:
Tristi Pinkston is the author of almost thirty books ranging from cozy mystery to historical fiction to sweet romance and everything in between. She works as a freelance editor and is the owner of Trifecta Books. She’s a popular presenter at writers’ conferences and sits on the board of directors for iWriteNetwork. In her free time (who are we kidding – she has no free time) she likes to spend time with her husband and four children and take really, really long naps.

Welcome, Tristi. Please tell us about your current release.
Taking the Floor is the third volume in the Estelle Watkins Mysteries series. Estelle is a spunky older lady who keeps finding dead bodies and stumbling upon mysteries, and she can’t help but try to solve them. Her best friend Vera is her cohort as they snoop around and try to ferret out the bad guy while keeping a hot dinner on the table.

In Taking the Floor, Estelle and her husband, Sam, are invited to take part in a local version of Waltzing with the Wealthy, a ballroom dance competition. When the young woman in charge of assigning the dancers to their teachers is found murdered, Estelle is in the perfect position to investigate the crime.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’m a really big fan of Dancing with the Stars, and it was fun to write a spoof of the show. Estelle and Vera always make me laugh, and I enjoyed putting them in the middle of a setting I know well and could replicate easily.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Taking the Reins, which is the fourth Estelle Watkins Mystery, is currently being produced online by BigWorld Network, and Taking the Cake, which is the final book in the series, will be coming out in a few months. Right now, I’m trying my hand at short sweet romance novels, which are new for me and very fun. I’m still working on my other cozy mystery novels as well … basically, I’m writing a little bit of everything.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote my first poem when I was five, which totally thrilled my mother and she started telling everyone I was getting a book ready to publish. Um, not quite, but it was nice of her to be so proud of me. I tinkered with writing my whole life, but I would say that I didn’t realize I actually could become published until 2000. My first novel came out in 2002, and I’ve had nothing but tons of fun 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 full-time, although I try to get in about an hour a day. I work as a freelance editor and I run a publishing company, so those two things take up the bulk of my work time. I find that I’m not happy unless I’m also working on one of my own books, so that’s what keeps me finding time for my projects. I’m very thankful that I have a career that allows me to work from home, as I do have four children.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can’t write without a glass of ice water, mostly ice, sitting next to me. I know it’s not good for my teeth, but I am an ice eater, and if I don’t have some, I have to go get some or I can’t work. I’d say I go through about thirty pounds a week.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer and a mother. And I get to do both. I feel very blessed.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?

My writing is fun, off the wall, and clean – and I’ve been known to make people crack up in public and spew water all over their computer screens. That’s kind of a warning just so you’re prepared with paper towels and so forth. 

Links:

Thanks, Tristi!  Happy writing!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Book excerpt for paranormal romance Silver Wolf Clan by Tera Shanley

Today’s special feature is for the romantic suspense novel Silver Wolf Clan by Tera Shanley.

As part of her virtual book tour, Tera will be awarding a $10 Amazon gift card to THREE lucky winners! 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!

Blurb about Silver Wolf Clan:
What happens when monsters turn out to be real? One summer night while camping in the woods, Morgan Carter finds out in a big way. A tall mysterious stranger, Greyson Crawford, risks his life to try and save her sister from the vicious wolf attacking their camp. When he’s bitten and disappears into the night, Morgan can only assume the worst.

Greyson shows up a year later, and he’s a different animal altogether. His eye color shifts constantly and the rumble in his throat sounds more animal than human. She hasn’t any idea where he’s been all this time, but a good guess as to what he’s become.

Grey is determined not to let the darkness of his new existence affect Morgan and the little girl in her care. He hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Morgan but knows he should stay away and let her live a normal life. That’s easier said than done, though. A new danger pulls him from the shadows to keep her safe, and he’s no wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Can she accept what lurks just below his surface? More importantly, can she survive him?

Excerpt:
Old buildings of differing shades of gray jutted up from cracked sidewalks against the overcast sky. Pungent garbage bins dotted dirty alleys, and the homeless huddled under sheets of cardboard and tattered blankets as they caught afternoon naps. A stumbling woman in a much too short skirt tried to get his attention, and Grey crossed the street to avoid her. He emptied the change from his pocket into the cup a scruffy looking youth held out, and made a clucking sound against his teeth at the woman who screamed profanities from a second floor window at her apparently unfaithful boyfriend begging forgiveness below. He’d seen this little show before. It seemed to be a weekly thing for that couple. A mangy tabby cat hissed from the shattered window of an abandoned building and he threw it a withering look just to feel the satisfaction of hearing it scream and bolt away.

He smelled it again—faintly, but it was there—and skidded to a stop. There one second and gone the next, as wind warning of an upcoming storm whipped around him. There it was again. He tried to follow the familiar scent but got turned around and lost it once more in the confusion of the alleyway scents. Then turned back the way he’d come and found it. Pulling his hands from his pockets, he jogged after it. Another six blocks, and it got stronger and more concentrated. People threw him concerned glances as he sniffed the air every few seconds, but he didn’t care. He rounded a corner and buckled his legs against the forward motion.

There she was.

Morgan.


Author bio:
Tera Shanley writes in sub-genres that stretch from Paranormal Romance, to Historic Western Romance, to Apocalyptic (zombie) Romance. The common theme? She loves love. A self-proclaimed bookworm, she was raised in small town Texas and could often be found decorating a table at the local library. She currently lives in Dallas with her husband and two young children and when she isn’t busy running around after her family, she’s writing a new story or devouring a good book. Any spare time is dedicated to chocolate licking, rifle slinging, friend hugging, and the great outdoors. For more information about Tera and her work, visit www.terashanley.com.

Social links:

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Interview with urban fiction author Zangba Thomson

Please welcome Zangba Thomson to Reviews and Interviews today. He’s here to chat about writing, and in particular, his new novel, an urban fiction, urban fantasy, action adventure titled Three Black Boys.

During his virtual book tour, Zangba will be awarding a print copy of Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper or a Bong Mines Clothing T-shirt (winner's choice) to a randomly drawn winner (US ONLY). To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other blog tour stops and enter there, too!


Bio:
Zangba Thomson is the Creative Director at BME LLC, the author of Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper, co-author of Do Right Do Good (a self-help guide book towards vision fulfillment and entrepreneurship), a recording artist, and New York Life Coach Examiner. Zangba balances his career and family time on the scale of hard work and dedication, and his main areas of focus include his real life experiences, metaphysics, and spirituality. Zangba's work reinforces the basic idea that goals are fulfilled when right decisions are made.

Welcome Zangba. Please tell us about your current release.
Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper is basically a heartfelt novel about three teenage boys and their adult co-stars. Out of goodwill, the boys spring into dangerous action to obtain financial aid for an Indian immigrant—a near-death woman who has only a month to live. The woman doesn’t have any health insurance, and she is in desperate need of a liver transplant. So, with valuable time ticking away, the three boys go on a dangerous mission to obtain the quarter of a million dollars needed for the woman’s surgery, but subsequently, little do they know that they will encounter huge obstacles and experience more than they have ever experienced before.

What inspired you to write this book?
Three Black Boys originally started as a Hip-Hop song that I recorded at Straight Live Studios, in Queens, NY. People who heard the record were always asking me, "What's the story behind the boys’ robbery attempt?" And at that time—I didn’t know why. One day I just decided to write and record a song about three black boys robbing a grocery store. But that’s the wonderful thing about creativity, we as creators are never trapped, and we have the power to add or take away from any thing that we have created. So to make a long story short—I answered their intriguing question when I adapted the three-minute-song into the short story—Three Black Boys: The Authorized Version, which later evolved into the novel—Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper. It wasn’t easy adapting a hip-hop song into a full-length novel, because if you really think about it—my starting point would most likely be the ending scene in most writers’ stories. Even Kirkus, who did the review for Three Black Boys: The Authorized Version, was impressed that I was able to write my way out of a bad situation—and they wrote, “But Thomson amazingly manages to tack on a happy ending after the unbridled bloodshed!” If that’s not inspiring—I don’t know what is.

Excerpt:
Ego, a creative God, sees the gardeners’ departure as an opportunity to do his dirty work. He wind surfs down below the clouds and lands between two rows of cosmic trees. He walks on dried leaves while reading the names of the cosmic trees as he passes by them. “At last,” he says with a giant smile, after finding what he is looking for, “the Melatonin cosmic tree. The main ingredient I need to permanently destroy their human creation.” Out the corner of his eye, he sees a fountain flowing with miracle water. Unable to resist the temptation, he makes his way over to the fountain, and drinks enough water to satisfy his thirst. “Damn, this is good water,” he says before pulling out a small metallic container from his waistband. He fills the container with miracle water, closes the lid, and inserts the container back inside his waistband. He walks back over to the Melatonin cosmic tree and tries to uproot it, but his efforts are in vain. He closes his eyes to mediate, and a short while later, the color of his aura changes from light gray to dark red. Now, much more powerful than before, he tries again to uproot the cosmic tree and succeeds.

Suddenly, the sky becomes dim and darkness covers the fourth dimensional sun. The moon ascends up to its highest peak, but instead of its normal glow, it shines a black fluorescent ray of light. The ground shakes thunderously, and steam erupts from an underground lake.


What exciting story are you working on next?
I am co-authoring an exciting new relationship guidebook (with five other authors) entitled Single Man Married Man, which will explore the psyche of single, married and divorce men about their views on the state of men and women relationships. It’s gonna be wonderful because from what I’m hearing—a lot of women are anticipating the release of Single Man Married Man, which should be released… sometime this year. I look at it like this—whenever you get a chance to do an interactive project dealing with men and women’s relationship issues—the outcome and response will always be great, especially if the advices given within the book are genuine. There are many single, engaged and married women out there—women who are having relationship problems, and those who are looking for a man but they just don’t know how to obtain Mr. Right. Well, ladies, look no further—the advices written in Single Man Married Man will get you a man or keep you in the arms of your dream man. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
At an early age, I would say around 10 or 11, I use to draw a lot and write poetry. And going into my teenage years—when Hip-Hop was on the rise, I took a very special liking to the music of Boogie Down Production, a Hip-Hop group that was originally composed of KRS-One, D-Nice, and DJ Scott La Rock. KRS-One’s lyrical ability impressed me so much that I started writing my own rap lyrics, which eventually evolved into songs. And shortly after that, a rapper named Kool G Rap rhymed about a Street Lit author named Donald Goines—who in my humble opinion is one of the greatest storytellers in literary fiction, and after reading my first Donald Goines’ book—which was Black Gangster, a whole new literary world opened up to me, and I knew from that point on moving forward—I wanted to become a professional writer, and ever since then—I’ve been honing my craft.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your workday like?
Yes, I am a full time writer, and my production/publishing company—Bong Mines Entertainment LLC keeps me extremely busy with various writing projects. Also, I run and operate my own clothing line—Bong Mines Clothing Company, which is a subsidiary of BME LLC, and additionally—I contribute motivationally inspired evergreen articles and Q&A interview assignments for Examiner.com/AXS Network and WordOnDaStreet.com; and somewhere in the near future—I plan on branching off and expanding into writing feature films and TV Dramas.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I am writing a book, I kinda use the same rhythm and beat formula that I would use when writing a song. First I develop the soul of the story, which is the main ingredient; and then I establish the rhythm or melody; the hook is elusively placed in the plot, and oftentimes I find myself using rhyming words to construct sentences, and while I’m writing—I’m also putting together a musical soundtrack in my mind. It’s quite interesting and different, but through song—I can dictate the story’s mood or emotion and naturally anticipate what scene I should write next.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up, I wanted to be a songwriter, so I wrote everywhere I went, and when I ran out of paper—I wrote my lyrical ideas down on anything I could find or get my hands on. Writing rhymes was my hobby before I even knew what I wanted to become.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes, please visit my official website at www.zangbathomson.com; support Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper—and all my other products, and subscribe to receive my articles in your inbox. It’s been a pleasure, and I want to give a special shout out to Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews—for hosting this wonderful event, and also I want to give thanks to Goddess Fish Promotions—for organizing this magnificent “Virtual Name Before the Masses Tour” for Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper. (PEACE) and always remember that (P) Positive, (E) Energy, (A) Always, (C) Creates, (E) Elevation.

Links:

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Thank you, Zangba!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Interview with debut mystery author Sylvia Sarno

Today’s special guest is Sylvia Sarno to tell us a little bit about her writing life, and particularly her new novel, Sufficient Ransom.

Bio:
Since I was a child I've been fascinated with stories. When I was about six years old, my father started reading classic stories to me and my sisters at bedtime. He read (in a theatrical way that kids love) Gulliver's Travels and a number of Shakespeare's plays, simplifying the language and condensing the stories so that we could understand them. When I got older, I considered a career as a writer. But the thought of writing a book seemed so arduous to me, though I loved to read and discuss them. I wanted to work in business. In college, I majored in English because I loved the subject. I planned to learn about business by working in companies, not by studying them. After working in commercial real estate, investment banking, and in my own recruiting firm for years, I decided I really wanted to write novels.

Welcome, Sylvia. Please tell us about your current release.
Sufficient Ransom is a mystery/thriller about a mother’s hunt for her missing child. Searching for her son, Ann Olson throws caution to the wind. Soon, she finds herself enmeshed in the seedy world of Mexican drug dealers who operate just across the border in Tijuana. Does Ann, an atheist, embrace Christianity despite her husband warning that her pastor friend is more interested in converting her than in finding her son? Does she make it out of the drug tunnel alive, or is her rashness her downfall? And is her son’s disappearance related to that of other recently missing children in San Diego? A story of a mother’s love, courage in the face of evil, and her unexpected journey of self-discovery along the way.

What inspired you to write this book?
When I was a child living in Turin, Italy in the 1970’s, there was much talk of kidnapping. The heir to a business fortune had been kidnapped in Rome. My parents talked about the situation a lot in front of me and my sisters (maybe they shouldn’t have because it is a scary subject). We were attending an American school and many of my classmates came from wealthy families. Some of the children were driven to school by their bodyguards. Years later, those fearful emotions came back to me and inspired Sufficient Ransom.

Excerpt:
Snuggled against Travis in the hotel bed, Ann checked her phone again. She had left Richard several messages and emails urging him to return home early from Hong Kong. Terrified Kika would make good on her promise to take Travis, she couldn’t stand the thought of the next days without her husband. It was nearly midnight and he still hadn’t responded. She imagined his days and nights were jam-packed with meetings, as usual.

With Richard’s heavy travel schedule lately, she and Travis were alone much of the time. It seemed more so since the whole CPS thing started. Ann knew she had to find a new school for her son. She had interviewed a few prospective places, but she wasn’t in any hurry after the disaster of the last school. She cherished their leisurely meals together, their playtime, and visiting all their favorite places, like they used to do when Travis was very small.

Travis had been born four weeks early—small and helpless. Nothing she had read in the books prepared Ann for the awe she felt in the presence of this perfect little person whom she and her husband had created. Terrified something would happen to him, she didn’t take Travis out of the house for the first two months of his life. On their inaugural outing, fearing an accident, she admonished her husband to drive slowly. When they arrived at their destination, an Italian restaurant in Del Mar, she had clutched Travis in his car seat as she ran for the door, afraid the hot sun would burn his delicate skin.

When the waitress bent down to take a look at Travis, sleeping in his seat, Ann threw a blanket over him, fearful germs would somehow reach him. “I’m sorry,” she said to the startled woman. “I’m a little nervous. You see. It’s his first time out.” The waitress, a mother herself, understood, as did the many others whose eager hands Ann had gently turned away. The world, women especially, love to touch a baby. As Travis grew, she relaxed more. But that feeling of vulnerability remained.


What exciting story are you working on next?
My second novel is loosely based on a real-life conflict that occurred in World War II Italy. I am excited about this project because it has enabled me to explore my southern Italian heritage. The rise of fascism is an eye-opening and captivating subject. I’ve always been fascinated by how average people survive in a totalitarian society. The Italian variety under Mussolini was unique in so many ways. Reading about the ingenious ways people devised to cope with the crazy stuff the elite foisted on them has made me appreciate the Italian people all the more.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I sold my first book to a stranger.

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 write while my kids are in school. When they’re not in school, I spend my time with them and on other tasks like cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. So I guess I would say that I write part-time and am a housewife the rest of the time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I prefer being completely alone in the house to write. People noises (voices, talking) distracts me and sets me day dreaming. I wear earmuffs when others are around.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a psychiatrist. I’ve always been fascinated by people. I wanted to help those with problems.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I like to eat, at restaurants especially. And I have a sweet tooth that I try—and often fail—to curb. Italian pastries are my favorite. I think I’m addicted to chocolate. I can’t have just one piece—I have to eat the whole bar!

Links:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to address your readers, Lisa. I’ve enjoyed it!


It's been my pleasure, Sylvia. Thank you so much for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interview with debut middle grade author Mr. M.

Today’s guest is MG author Mr. M. He’s talking with us about his debut novel The Magical Adventures of Brian Leonard that released this month.

Bio:
Mr. M. was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He has an MFA from the American Film Institute and a MHD from Pacific Oaks College. He lives with his wife, son, and dog in Sherman Oaks. The dog is super cute!

Welcome, Mr. M. Please tell us about your current release.
Brian's just an ordinary teenager, struggling with the usual trials and tribulations of junior high. He's just started dating Sophia, and he hopes the upcoming school dance will be a memorable event. Hanging out with Sophia and his best friend, Johnny, Brian's shocked to see his uncle Bobby at the dance. Bobby's been dead for years. After warning Brian to stay away and spitting ectoplasmic goo at him and Sophia, Bobby's spirit flees. This is one terrible date.

Brian quickly discovers his spooky encounter was a warning. The spirit of his black-magic-wielding grandmother Esther is restless, and way too active for anyone's good. Thirsting for revenge on the family that rejected her evil, Esther traps Brian's mother and Huck in a ghostly dimension. Brian needs to become a ghost in order to save his mom and uncle!

What inspired you to write this book?
Brian was originally a character I wrote for an unpublished short story. A bulk of the material serves as the first three chapters of this book. The story was about a boy who has a crush on a new girl at his school.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on two stories. One of the stories is the sequel to Brian Leonard. Lately, I have really enjoyed reading young adult books. I loved reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I also enjoyed reading The Fault in Our Stars. When I was a middle school student, I enjoyed reading books like Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. All of these books have really engaging characters.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote a lot when I was in film school. None of my scripts were produced. However, I learned a lot about storytelling. Later on in life I became a television executive. Some of the greatest stories I have seen were episodes of television.

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 not write full time. I am a teacher. This is another passion of mine. I normally write after my son goes to bed. It can be challenging at times. Sometimes I feel blocked. When those moments happen I try and write something else. Eventually I will be able to refocus on the project.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am actually incredibly boring. I normally write on a laptop. Sometimes I write in bed. Occasionally, it helps me if I listen to music. Typically, I will listen to rock ‘n’ roll. Listening to punk rock bands also helps me write. I love listening to Blink 182 and Green Day.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child I wanted to play baseball for the Dodgers. At the time we had a great infield. Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, and Bill Russell were our guys. We cheered them on during the best and worst of times. I stopped playing organized baseball after the sixth grade. Eventually, I played softball once a week for a day camp I worked at. I would love to throw out the first pitch someday! That would be so cool!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Writing is about sharing. Whether you are a second grader or an adult, it is important to share your creative thoughts. Never be afraid to share your thoughts with another writer. I would love to hear from you. I would love to come visit a book group. The book will be out during the first week in August! Buy a copy!


Thanks, Mr. M.! Happy writing!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book excerpt from Hidden Shadows by Lauren Hope

Today's feature is a book blurb and excerpt for the romantic suspense novel Hidden Shadows by Lauren Hope.

During her virtual book tour, Lauren will be awarding a randomly drawn lucky winner (1) $25 Amazon gift card. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other blog stops and enter there, too! 

Blurb about Hidden Shadows:
Jenna Gregor is a busy, single mom of two, successfully overseeing a Perinatal Wing in a downtown Nashville clinic. On the surface, Jenna’s achievements are many, her future bright and promising. But in her past are secrets, sins she doesn’t want exposed. Sins someone else doesn’t want to forget, or forgive.

Just as Jenna’s life finally seems to be falling back into place after her bitter divorce—Bennett Aston can handle her sarcasm and stubbornness quite nicely—it all begins to unravel. Someone is lurking, hiding in theshadows, slowly and meticulously ruining Jenna’s well-crafted world. As threats evolve, suspicions grow, and death becomes a vivid reality, Jenna must decide whom she can trust and find her allies, before her secrets become her undoing.


Excerpt from Hidden Shadows:
All a child needed was its mother. That’s what her own mom had yelled to her over the booze and music one night when Desiree asked the simple question—where’s my Daddy?

At any rate, she thought lazily, as her mind began to lag with the memories, today was my last attempt.

Her spiraling depression made her unsure if she could even make it to the hospital the next day, much less go unnoticed—especially after being escorted out today by the burly security guard for her suspicious behavior.

The self-pitying thoughts turned to anger again, a hot, boiling, lava-like rage that burned under her skin. She felt as though her head would explode with the pain.

She jumped up, screamed the wrath, and ran to the bathroom’s small stretch of counter. Her thin, pallid face reflected back at her in the mirror above the sink. Breaths puffed out raggedly from her tight lungs as she looked around blankly at the numerous infant outfits scattered throughout the room. She balled her hand in a firm fist, punched the mirror with force, and watched numbly as bits of bloody glass shattered over the sink.

It was freeing in a way, a sense of relief and release to watch her veins spew their red anger. It calmed her some, settled her thoughts.

Control, control, she ordered herself. “You are a bright woman who deserves what she wants. You will not be outsmarted.”


Author bio:
Lauren Hope is the author of the bestselling mystery Screaming To Be Solved, and her first published work, The Shadow Series (Hidden Shadows, Chasing Shadows). Lauren creates a modern twist on the classic 'whodunit,' combining suspense, romance, even comedy, for intriguing, heartfelt stories.

With a background in Communication and Journalism, Lauren has sat behind the anchor's desk and worked in the corporate world, finding her ultimate love in writing. Screaming To Be Solved was named a 'Hot New Release' by Amazon in 2013 and charted in the top 10 on Amazon's international bestseller list.

She lives with her husband, daughter, and floppy-eared rescue pup in Tennessee.

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