Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Interview with young adult fantasy author Kristin Durfee

Young adult fantasy author Kristin Durfee is in the hots seat today to talk about the first book in her new trilogy, Four Corners.

Kristin is also doing a virtual book tour, and is going to be giving away a copy of Four Corners. To be entered for a chance to win the book, use the form below.

Kristin Durfee grew up outside of Philadelphia where an initial struggle with reading blossomed into a love and passion for the written word.

She has been a writer since a very young age, writing short stories and poems, though now is focusing on longer works. She is currently working on the next book in the Four Corners Trilogy.

Kristin currently resides outside of Orlando, FL, and when not enjoying the theme parks or Florida sun, she spends most of her time with her husband and their quirky dog.

She is a member of the Florida Writers Association.  

Welcome, Kristin. Please tell us about your current release.
Four Corners is the story of Aura, Queen of the cursed kingdom of Esotera, and her search for the one person that can help her break that curse. At its core, though, it is the story of two young people faced with incredibly adult choices and having to find strength in themselves they didn't know they had. I think it's a story that will resonate with readers of all ages even though the characters are in their teens.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was at Thanksgiving with my in-laws a few years ago and my niece was reading a book and I remember her saying something along the lines of how neat it would be to live in that world. For some reason the idea of her living in a magical land with dragons was so strong, I literally started writing that night. She is the inspiration for Thierra in my story. Funny enough it was also the first work I'd ever finished. I always started and abandoned works. Maybe the idea of the muse is real after all!

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on cleaning up the sequel to Four Corners to hopefully submit it to my publisher by the end of summer and working on the third (and final!) installment in the trilogy. I have a bunch of other ideas kicking around too, one for middle grade and one for adult, but I think I need more hours in the day until I can get to those.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I have and haven't considered myself a writer a number of times! In lulls I have to remind myself that I am still a writer. It is just a part of who I am. But I've always identified with loving to write since I was very young, in elementary school.

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, though I wish I could! I work full time as a crime lab scientist. Which I think is why I enjoy writing fantasy so much, I see enough real-life in my everyday work! I try to be diligent about writing, carving out a specific time each day, but with the release of Four Corners, I was surprised to find how busy I've been promoting, writing anything new has, unfortunately, been delegated to the weekend. But if I can write for 5 hours or so a week, I'm happy. I just try to fit it in when and where I can.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I always have a candle burning when I write. It helps put me in that mindset. I also like listening to instrumental music, I have a pretty big playlist of Harry Potter soundtracks. Maybe I am hoping some of the magic will rub off on me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As strange as it sounds, and as much as I always loved writing, I never saw it as a career for myself. I always was interested in science and forensics. From a VERY young age, probably 12 or 13, I wanted to be in the crime lab. Luckily my parents weren't too freaked out about a kid so focused on such a grizzly career and encouraged my path.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I was someone who struggled with reading when I was younger, and I think it's really important to put that out there and be real that learning isn't easy for everyone. I didn't really learn how to read until I was in the third grade. I credit my teacher, Ms. Slavin, with saving me in a way. Once the floodgates were opened to me, I couldn't get enough. I hope anyone out there who is struggling with learning a concept, especially one as important as reading, knows that there are people out there who can help. I don't know where I would be today if it wasn't for her and my parents recognizing that I needed some extra attention. You'd be surprised what you can do when you overcome obstacles!


Thanks, Kristin! 

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Interview with debut paranormal novelist Lily Luchesi

Debut paranormal novelist Lily Luchesi is visiting us today to talk about Stake Out, the first novel in her new Paranormal Detective series.

Lily Luchesi is a young author/poet born in Chicago, Illinois, now residing in Los Angeles, California. Ever since she was a toddler her mother noticed her tendency for being interested in all things “dark”. At two she became infatuated with vampires and ghosts, and that infatuation turned into a lifestyle by the time she was twelve, and, as her family has always been what they now call “Gothic”, she doesn’t believe she shall ever change. She is also a hopeless romantic and avid music-lover, and will always associate vampires with love, blood and rock and roll. Her interest in poetry came around the same time as when she was given a book of Edgar Allan Poe’s complete work. She then realized that she had been writing her own poetry since she could hold a pen, and just had not known the correct terms. She finished her first manuscript at the age of fourteen, and now, at twenty-one, has two contributing credits in anthologies and a debut novel, Stake-Out, was published by Vamptasy Publishing on May 19th, 2015. It is available in print and on Kindle. She also has a short story in the CHBB anthology Love Sucks.

Welcome Lily. Please tell us about your debut release.
Stake-Out is a story about a cop whose perp turns out to be a vampire, but the police department doesn't believe him. He gets contacted by the Paranormal Investigative Division of the FBI to help them hunt the centuries-old rogue vampire. Danny, my protagonist, has to learn to cope with the fact that vampires and other various paranormal creatures are real, while slowly falling for his new partner, Detective Angelica Cross.

But things get even worse when past lives are revealed and vengeful witches come to throw even more wrenches into Danny's life.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was watching a crime show on TV one night and wondered, "What would happen if a cop's perp turned out to be a vampire?" Honestly, the rest of the book kind of wrote itself. I can barely remember writing it! I finished the first draft in less than three months and came out of it with ideas for three more books, as long as my publisher accepts them. Here is a little taste to whet your appetite!

Excerpt from Stake Out:

June 2012

"'Cause if my eyes don't deceive me/There's something going wrong around here."--Joe Jackson 

Detective First Grade Daniel Mancini was on assignment to follow a homicide suspect. The man was suave, British and rich. He was also suspected of murdering two women in the past two weeks. It was Danny's mission to put the perp behind bars...at least, until he could get a needle in his arm! He should have had his partner with him, but she was on maternity leave and the Chicago Police Department was short-handed, so he was on his own that night. 

He followed the man from his house in a rural and posh suburb to the South Side of the city, in one of the worst neighborhoods.

It was foggy and cold; felt more like mid-March than June. He watched his perp chat up a young woman on the corner. Prostitute. The other two had also been classified as "ladies of the night", but the second one turned out to be the runaway wife of a high-powered lawyer. She'd left because he beat her and withheld any money he earned from her. He would've killed her eventually; this way she'd just ended up deader sooner. It was her death that put this investigation at the top of Homicide's priority list.

He brought along his smartphone to photograph or film the perp talking with the woman, for proof. He hung back as long as possible, hating the thought that he might cause a woman emotional trauma by waiting, but, in order to make the charges stick, he needed to catch the perp in the act. He clipped the phone to his belt, hoping the video camera would catch everything. He needed his hands free.

Keeping one hand on his gun he crept closer, keeping his distance, until he heard a woman's gurgling scream. He dashed into the alleyway and what he saw changed his life forever.

The woman was on the cold, wet, dirty concrete, trying to scream again. She couldn't, because the perp was latched onto her throat with fangs that could only be described as Dracula-worthy.

Her clothes were torn and blood also flowed from one breast and her abdomen. He could clearly distinguish the bite marks as those he saw in every old vampire movie ever made (with the exception of Nosferatu).

 "Freeze! Police!" he cried, taking out his gun. He fired two shots which, on a normal man, would've proved instantly fatal. On this perp, it was like firing a BB gun at a rhino.

The perp looked up, his pale face ghoulish in the waning light from the lamppost a few feet down.

The whites of his eyes were blood red and his pupils were entirely black, like a cat's...or a bat's.

His face had elongated somehow, to accommodate the mouthful of fangs, two of which were protruding more than the others to pierce the skin. His jaw was slick and shiny with the dark, sticky lifeblood of the girl who was now breathing her last breaths. The hiss that issued from that evil mouth was like a hellborn snake. His eyes widened even more, making Danny feel faint. He passed out in the alley, his last sight the poor dead girl, with blood flowing from her unearthly bite marks and then ceasing, as her heart also ceased to beat.

The last thing he heard was a small shuffling and footsteps coming towards him before all thought ceased.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The sequel to Stake-Out is with my publisher, and I'm waiting to hear back about it. I can't disclose much, but it picks up a few months after Stake-Out ends, and brings Danny's long-dead (emphasis on dead) past back to the forefront of his life.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Well, I actually started writing when I was a little kid, starting with Sailor Moon fan fiction. I decided to do it professionally when I was eight years old. My teacher taught me how writing could be fun, and my mother encouraged my creativity. So as I was reading a book, and writing a short story for class, I decided, "This is what I want to be."

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 full time, but I also blog and edit freelance as well, at http://kellysmithreviews.blogspot.com . I was trapped inside my home as it burned in 2010 and ever since then I have had very bad anxiety, depression and insomnia, so every day is not the same for me. Sometimes I can barely get out of bed, and sometimes I'm Supergirl. I try to promote myself and my colleagues for a couple of hours every day, and write at least two thousand words a day, but I don't always make it. I do my best and every day I am getting better little by little.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a few things that differentiate me from other writers. Number one is I never write outlines for a book. If I can't remember it, it wasn't worth putting in my story. I also can't write in silence. I need either a film or music on in the background. I can write anywhere, any time and on any device. I wrote Stake-Out on a tablet, because my laptop broke and I couldn't afford a new one!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Aside from wanting to be a writer, I had dreams of being a psychologist. That didn't happen, but I use what I did learn (I studied since I was thirteen) in my work, as crime and psychology go hand in hand.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I'd like to also let you all know that I have a short story in the Crushing Hearts and Black
Butterfly anthology Love Sucks (CHBB owns Vamptasy, the company that published Stake-Out), and it is also vampire-themed.

I will also be in the Hot Ink Press (another CHBB subsidiary) anthology Death, Love and Lust with my very first erotic short story, which will also be horror-based.

I also want to thank you in advance if you do decide to go and give Stake-Out a read. I am not in this for monetary gain, but because I absolutely love to read and write, especially horror and paranormal stories. I hope that you love reading my book as much as I loved working on it, and will come back for more! xoxo


Thanks, Lily! Happy writing!

Friday, June 26, 2015

New interview with YA fantasy novelist Kris Noel

I’m happy to have YA fantasy author Kris Noel back on the blog. The second novel in her Lionhead series is out. It’s called Requiem and she’s here to dish on it.

Kris was here in January talking about the first novel in the series, Lionhead.

Kris Noel loves writing YA, but she also loves running her writing advice blog over at krisnoel.com. With over 30,000 followers, she has penned hundreds of articles for writers of all ages.

Despite working full-time as a copywriter, Kris finds time to work on her novels and has released one project a year since 2012. She plans on doing her best to continue this trend and wants to keep working on growing her blog. 

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Kris.
Thank you!

Catch us up… please tell us about your newest release.
Requiem is the sequel to Lionhead, which was release back in 2012 through Neverland Publishing, and I’m very excited that it’s almost ready to go! Here’s a little bit about Requiem:

After a dangerous enemy descended on Lionhead weeks before, Riley Bale is left with an unshakeable feeling of impending doom. With Christian still on the loose and no clues pointing to his whereabouts, Riley and her friends must stay vigilant. In addition to fearing another attack, Riley also has to figure out which one of her best friends will join Christian’s cause—and both Ash and Oliver are beginning to reveal their dark sides.

A carefree trip to another shifter city, Requiem, might be just what they need to take their minds off of what’s coming for them, but it doesn’t go exactly as planned. Riley finds herself caught up in something bigger than she could have possibly imagined and this time she’ll have to face her enemies alone.

What inspired you to write this book?
I actually wrote it a couple years ago, so I always had sequel planned for Lionhead. I wanted to continue Riley’s story and really take the whole thing in a new direction.

What’s the next writing project?
I’ve been working on a couple new stories, but I will focus on editing the third book in the Lionhead series. Hopefully I can get that ready for some time next year!

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book?
It’s getting started and then staying motivated. Writing the beginning of a novel is very difficult for me and then getting myself to stick with it. Once I get into a groove, I’m usually okay. But seriously, motivating myself is always a struggle.

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 usually take a lot of time to research first, so I’m not struggling with those parts of my novel. I think research allows you to discover new ideas that you wouldn’t be able to incorporate into your novel unless you did the research first. It sometimes takes your novel in a new and unexpected direction.

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.
Most of the time, you’ll find me writing in bed before I go to sleep! It’s probably not the best place to focus on writing, but it works for me. I usually switch on some bad television shows and write what I can before I get too tired. My writing spot changes from time to time, so there’s not one particular place where I always write.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I don’t follow one specific author, but I do really like Stephen King. I tend to stay in YA and sci-fi unless something else catches my attention. I do love Libba Bray!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
I also run a writing advice blog over at krisnoel.com and you can find me over at Goodreads!

Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!

Thanks so much for having me!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Interview with literary fiction author Clarence 'Poet 402' Barbee

Today’s feature is literary fiction author Clarence Barbee who’s here to talk about his new book, Chicken Soup and a Shot of Jack.

During his virtual book tour, Clarence will be awarding a $10 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 his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Clarence Barbee has been writing and performing poetry for over a decade. He has produced 9 spoken word albums, under the pseudonyms Nabraska and Poet402. Clarence is now working on self-publishing books of essays and short stories.

In his professional life he has worked with, educated, and supported many children. Clarence believes in keeping an eye on political planes and social occurrences such as changes in world leadership, and social inequalities. These actions of men are a huge curiosity to the author; he believes in writing about them, and discussing them, so solutions can be made.

Clarence has taken these experiences and written about them extensively. He asks, “who doesn’t want to be happy,” then goes about the business of finding the answer. Please take some time to join him on this journey as they are set through words, sometimes with music, and always taken with a grain of salt.

Welcome, Clarence. Please tell us about your current release.
Chicken Soup and A Shot of Jack, is a work of literary fiction filled with thought-provoking essays, poetry, and short stories. The themes range from humanity to comedy, growing up to racial tensions in America, along with thoughts of being a youth and the most enjoyable ways to spend time. The poetry comes from my experiences of being an African-American male, a paraprofessional, and a supervisor with an all girls treatment center. The book dives in the human psyche and begs to show balance to the sometime insurmountable odds that we all face. It also allows the reader the levity of laughing after the storm hits, and being ok with laughing at yourself.

What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for the book came from life. I have had some success as a spoken word poet, performing all over the country, and gaining insight from all these experiences; but never really sat down and put it on paper. The other inspiration came s few years ago after moving away from my family, and wanting to really find who I was, and I fit into this greater world. I knew I was a pretty decent human being, but I didn’t sculpt myself, by myself, I had a lot of help in that. So I took a hard look at what a lot of my influences were and how I tried to influence others. I learned that there is balance to everything, and if not then there may be some issues

Excerpt from Chicken Soup and A Shot of Jack:
From “They Never Told Us”

They never told us to listen to each other, never taught us to engage in the conversation, challenging the speaker to prove that which they so confidently stated. They never told us to dream; they told us to make goals, for those are the building blocks to the foundation of living. Rarely did they inspire us. They, merely, spat their philosophies of hard work paying off in the future, yet they did not teach us to smile. They told us to adhere to the rules, honor your mother and father, and your days would be long upon the land. They never told us that mommy was unhappy with daddy’s infidelity, and that daddy was unhappy with mommy’s insecurity.

They never taught us to believe in each other. No one ever said, that little boy or girl sitting next to you is your brother or sister, and you will need them, so help them, and vice versa. They taught us to never say, “Hi”, to a stranger, they never taught us how to make a friend, when everyone is a stranger. They never told us what to do with the scary girl in the back of the class who wore dark make-up, and never wore shorts in gym class. They never told us she likes to cut herself, they never told us why. They never gave us a game plan for that “loner” boy, who always read the advanced chemistry books, and walked around with his head down. They never said to engage him, or talk to him; they said he would be ok.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently working on a book of short stories. I felt I would expand on the story-teller in me and explore what comes out. Some of the stories are about pain and heartache; others are about the pure craziness of being locked up. Right now these stories are all un-related, they stand alone on their own merit I believe. However they are not short in wit, and humor. There is one story in particular I am working on involving two youth in a treatment facility, and the adventures they encounter in there. It is shaping up to be an adventure of a tale.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I began to consider myself a writer probably sometime in my twenties. At that point in my life I was writing a lot of poetry, and performing spoken word. Well, much of the feedback I was getting was that people could picture what I was talking about on stage. I began developing my stage presence, but the poetry kept getting longer and longer, like epic pieces. However the bright lights of the stage faded, I was performing less, but writing more. I began to keep a journal in my early thirties, and started getting more and more comfortable with complete, concise sentences. It was like I was in 8th grade English class all over again, but this time it felt good, and my confidence grew. So I kept writing, and somehow got to the point now, where I’m forming essays and working on short stories every week.

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?
Unfortunately, I don’t write full-time. I haven’t been able to pay bills with what I write, but it’s getting there. So what I do as a day job is work at a youth treatment facility. It can be brutal work at times, but rewarding at times as well. It has provided me with a lot of inspiration, and some ideas for different stories too. I never really find the time to write, I make it. I believe that if you really are dedicated to writing you will make time for it. You will cut off the cell phone, unplug the Internet, or get in the car, go to the park and make it happen.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
One of my quirks is writing in pencil. I know, I know, it’s elementary, and very analog, but it feels good. As a kindergartener, I learned how to write with a big blue pencil with no eraser—gotta love public schools huh? But getting a new notebook and some fresh pencils sharpened to a ‘T’…yea, that definitely puts me in the writing mood.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child I wanted to fly planes. I didn’t want to go to the Air Force, but I wanted to be a pilot. I remember taking a flight to South Carolina with my family and just loving the feel of lifting off, and the turns in the air, it was magic! However, by the time I was in jr. high, and was struggling in geometry, I knew I would have to fly a different course.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I believe that everyone should try something new at least once a month. Whether it be some new food, or mountain-climbing, or reading a different author who writes something out of your favorite genre, everyone should strive to try sometime new!


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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Special excerpt from contemporary romance A Fool for Love by Susan Lute

Today features a special excerpt from Susan Lute’s contemporary romance novel A Fool for Love.

During her virtual book tour, Susan will be awarding a $10 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!

Author bio:
Susan is an award winning, multi-published traditional and Indie author. Her debut novel, Oops…We’re Married? was a Reader’s Choice nominee and Holt Medallion Finalist. She describes herself first and foremost as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer, and novelist. An ardent student of human nature who loves ancient history and myth, she didn't grow up planning to be a writer. That didn’t come until much later, after her first publication – a little known article for Listen Magazine titled, Jessie’s Choice.

Other things you should know: Susan is the oldest child of a military family. She’s traveled to many places over the years, but has never been to Ireland, Paris, or Crete, an omission she hopes to someday correct. Her favorite places in the world are New York City, Sedona (Arizona), Ouray (Colorado), and Bath (England). And she believes the best things in life come in unexpected packages. She writes whenever she can. In between she works as a Registered Nurse, reads, gardens, takes lots of photos, travels whenever the opportunity arises, and remodels her house. She LOVES dragons. Currently she’s working on the next novel in her Dragonkind Chronicles, and dreaming up a new contemporary romance.

Blurb about A Fool for Love:
When a gypsy caravan-style truck breaks down at Martha's curbside, the last thing Zach Barret needs is an impulsive pixie rocking his boat. The more determined he is to stay away from the free-spirited, green-eyed nomad, the more he finds one kiss is not enough. Uncovering Alice York's secrets in paintings of empty swings and merry-go-rounds puts a new priority in the top spot on his short list. But can he convince this stunning woman to park her truck permanently in his drive?10:05 PM 5/7/2015

Excerpt from A Fool for Love:
Zach turned his attention to Alice. Unfortunately he hadn't put his best foot forward when he'd first encountered the foxy owner of the Ford. “Where were you headed when your fuel pump gave out?”

“Longview, Washington. Got a job there.”

“What kind of job, if you don't mind me asking?”

“I don't mind.” She nestled her chin in the palm of her hand, the sparkle in her eyes snapping with wry humor. “I work on classic cars.”

Remembering his first sight of her, he asked, “You're a mechanic?”

“Does that surprise you?”

The subtle scent of vanilla coming from her side of the table sent rational thought on a long hike in the opposite direction from practical reason. It was a good thing he was a grown man who had the power to stand up to steamy distractions.

“No.” The stranger his granddad and Lucy had invited to stay in their basement, who said she slept in her truck when it broke down, could be anything from a burglar to a most wanted criminal.

Stunning green eyes studied him. The punch to his gut wasn't that unpleasant.

Everything about the woman, the cut of her short, wispy, strawberry-blonde hair, the flowery dress that snuggled close to curves he couldn't help noticing, the energetic wave of slender hands when she talked with Lucy, all suggested an impulsive pixie who liked rocking the boat. He didn't like his boat rocked.


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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Interview with romance author Virginia McCullough

Awarding-winning novelist VirginiaMcCullough is here today chatting about her newest romance, The Jacks of Her Heart.

During her virtual book tour, Virginia will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card 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.  

Virginia McCullough’s award-winning novels speak to hope, healing, and plenty of second chances, with humor and laughter emerging even in her most serious stories. The Jacks of Her Heart is her fifth released novel, with The Icing on Her Cake soon to follow. Her other titles are Amber Light, Greta's Grace, Island Healing, and The Chapels on the Hill.

A lifelong writer, Virginia broke into publishing in her twenties, when her family moved to Maine and she began writing articles on family living, sailing-cruising topics, women’s issues, and children’s literature. Later, Virginia broke into book publishing as a coauthor and ghostwriter with titles written with and for healthcare experts, professional speakers, business owners, and many others. Her most recent medical book, The Oxygen Revolution, was coauthored with Paul Harch, M.D., a pioneer in hyperbaric medicine. Virginia has written well over 100 books for her clients, including 12 titles for neurologist Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., the creator of the popular weight loss program, Sensa.

Virginia also writes about writing-related topics with Lynda McDaniel, cofounder of The Book Catalysts (www.bookcatalysts.com), a book writing coaching service. They’re the authors of the e-book, Write Your Book Now: An A to Z guide to unleashing your creativity, writing your book fast, and finishing strong, and two other titles.

Welcome, Virginia. Please tell us about your current release.
Lorna Lindstrom and Jack Young fell in love—and married—in the heady atmosphere of moonlight and dancing on a tropical cruise. But now they’re back in chilly Capehart Bay, Wisconsin, and it’s time to face the music. Feeling like a couple of fools, it seems that ending the marriage is the best solution. Their three adult kids sure think so. But, what do their hearts want?

Lorna, a professional organizer and lifestyle coach, is a little too wedded to her spotless home. She fell in love with Jack’s generous heart, but must he rescue every abandoned dog in town? Jack, a laidback kind of guy, owns a popular, nostalgia café, with menu items named for ‘60s and ‘70s songs. He feels right at home in Lorna’s bedroom, but he might as well be a stranger everywhere else in her perfect house.

Once they decide to give their marriage a shot, it’s only a matter of days before they become entangled in each other’s families, and between them that includes two elderly parents, three kids in their twenties, and a toddler grandchild. Lorna soon puts her organizing skills to work to help Jack’s elderly father make a difficult move, while Jack takes on a new rescue mission, this one involving Lorna’s daughter.

But despite good intentions, Jack and Lorna are a classic “opposites attract” duo and can’t quite get in sync. So, they’ll either have to admit defeat and go their separate ways or find a way to make peace with their dueling quirks and have some fun with their second-chance romance.

What inspired you to write this book?
I got the idea for The Jacks of Her Heart after overhearing a couple of sisters in their twenties complain about their parents’ “behavior.” They were criticizing relatively small things, too, like their parents heading to Vermont to ski, when they’d never been skiing before. And their parents had a lot of nerve putting their house on the market! Without that huge home available, where will the whole extended family have Christmas?

My eavesdropping not only amused me, it spurred my imagination, resulting in Lorna and Jack, two fiftyish people who fall under the spell of a tropical cruise—and getting married on impulse. Whoa! What will the kids think of that? And how will this couple make sense of their own actions, especially when they discover their differences—great big ones? The new book was born, and now Book 2 of The Capehart Bay series is underway (The Icing on her Cake).

I’m not sure where I got the inspiration for Both Sides Now, Jack’s ‘60s and ‘70s nostalgia café, but I had great fun creating the menu—every dish, from the “Love me Tender Roast Beef Sandwich” to “Happy Together Mac ‘N Cheese” to the “Brown-eyed Girl Bran Muffins” are named after popular songs of the era. I ended up creating a Playlist of more than 50 songs mentioned in the book. To add to the nostalgia theme, I added a vintage clothing tent sale—I got to dress up some characters in swing coats, midi-skirts, and bell bottoms.

Although Jack’s canine friends become a big part of his conflict with Lorna, I especially enjoyed hearing Jack’s conversations with the dogs he rescues. I don’t have pets myself, but as a dedicated eavesdropper, I’ve heard many of these one-way conversations. It seems that dogs and cats—and horses, too—are the most understanding companions.

Excerpt from Jacks of Her Heart:
Lorna inched to the edge of her bed, but before sliding out, she glanced over her shoulder to watch the even rise and fall of Jack’s back under the sheet. If she rolled toward him she could reach out and rest her palm against his bare shoulder and soak up the warmth of his skin. No. The man’s warmth—on all levels—got her into this trouble in the first place. That and moonlight, and okay, since she’d started a list, she might as well add the long nights of delicious slow dancing.

Once out of bed, Lorna tiptoed to her reading chair in the corner, retrieving her bra and panties from the floor along the way. Then she pulled the throw off the back of the chair and wrapped it around herself like a towel. Only dim light seeped through the closed blinds, but she felt around the floor and came up with the silk shirt and slacks she’d worn on the flight home the night before. With her clothes draped over her arm, she stepped around the open suitcase blocking the way to her bedroom door. She reached for the doorknob, ready to escape, but took a last look at the scene she was about to leave behind.

A trail of jeans, a sport jacket, and a dark blue shirt led straight to the mound in the bed named Jack Young, age fifty-two, noteworthy only because, by coincidence, she and Jack were mere months apart in age.

Loathing messes as she did, it took all Lorna’s strength not to grab the two half-empty glasses and the champagne bottle that sat as accusers on her nightstand. She slipped into the hallway and shut the door behind her. Home free—more or less. Leaning against the wall, she closed her eyes and exhaled a long breath to quiet her jittery stomach. It worked for a second or two. Next step, get to June’s house as fast as her legs would carry her there.
Lorna brushed her teeth and dressed quickly in her guest bathroom before grabbing her winter jacket off the hook in the kitchen. She escaped through her back door and jogged down the slope of her yard that led to the footpath bordering the lake, the fastest route to June’s house.

She maneuvered around the muddy patches and pools of water left behind from last night’s rain. The dampness left the April morning air fragrant with the promise of spring. Lacking a breeze to disturb it, the lake perfectly mirrored the trees and houses lining the water’s edge. In the stillness, the sounds of a barking dog and children’s voices carried across the water from the opposite shore. A mere day ago, she’d been more than a thousand miles away, tilting her face toward the sun and sighing from happiness as sultry tropical air caressed her skin. She and Jack had made love to the nearly imperceptible rhythm of the cruise ship, dodging any talk of what they’d do when they arrived back home in Wisconsin.

What a disaster. Maybe she’d try to make light of their escapade. After all, Jack was a decent man, a really great guy, if also thoroughly unsuitable for her. He also had a terrific sense of humor. Maybe they could have a good hoot over their silly mistake. “Isn’t this the funniest thing?” she could say while trilling in a charming sort of way. Ha ha, titter titter. She could hold out her hand in a gesture of friendship. “What do you say? We figure out the easiest way to put this embarrassing little episode behind us?” More light-hearted laughter.
At last June’s white frame cottage came into view. Lorna hurried up the stone path and through the picture window spotted her friend standing at her kitchen table with a tall pile of laundry in front of her. Lorna waved to get her attention and when June looked up her face broke into a welcoming smile.

“Come in, come in,” June said after she’d opened the door and with a sweeping gesture invited Lorna inside. “I hoped you’d come over this morning. Help yourself to coffee and tell me all about your exciting cruise while I make my way through my boring laundry basket.”
Shrugging out of her jacket, Lorna peered around the corner of the kitchen into the hallway looking for any sign of June’s nine-year-old. “Is Bonnie gone?”

“The school bus picked her up a little while ago. Why?”

“I want to be sure we’re alone.” Lorna surveyed the table, with the laptop and a pile of fat file folders and legal pads at one end and the heap of laundry at the other. A full basket of clothes sat on the floor. “You’re really busy. I could come back later.”

“Don’t be silly,” June said, shaking out a crumpled bath towel. “This is laundry, not legal analysis.”

Lorna filled a mug from the carafe and went back to the table. Then she drew in a breath. “I’ve done something really stupid.”

June’s eyes narrowed. “Sit down and tell me about it.”
Lorna made a fast decision to blurt it out. “I got married. To Jack Young. In the Dominican Republic…”

What exciting story are you working on next?
In The Icing on Her Cake, Lorna encourages her best friend, June Angleton, an attorney, to get out in the world and have more fun. Yes, June is a great mom to 10-year-old Bonnie, but June’s life has become a bit too predictable. June’s life starts to change when she dons a 1970s-era bright red evening gown at Lorna’s vintage clothing tent sale, taking place at Capehart Bay’s nostalgia music festival. Out of the blue, a good looking stranger surprises her with a tap her on the shoulder and asks her to dance. Then, before June has a chance to even learn his name, he says goodbye to the “lady in red,” and disappears into the crowd. But the experience makes June agree with Lorna. She needs some fun in her life.

June and Bonnie soon sign up for a family-oriented cake decorating class, taught by none other than celebrity pastry chef, Camp (Campbell) Swift. Camp has moved to Capehart Bay to be closer to his daughter, Nina, who also happens to be one of Bonnie’s best friends. Camp is regrouping in other ways, too, because he’s made some huge mistakes that led to the cancellation of his Boston TV show. June and Camp are both flustered when they realize they shared a dance at the festival, but somehow they find themselves falling in love. And that means both are forced to make some important life choices. June’s decisions involve trusting a man again, something she vowed never to do, and Camp’s are about leaving behind the glitter and lure of celebrity in favor of life on the smaller stage of Capehart Bay.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I know many writers start scribbling stories as little kids, but I wasn’t like that at all—I was an avid reader, but I didn’t think I could ever be a writer. But in my mid-twenties, some inner voice nudged me in the direction of writing and publishing magazine articles, and after completing my first piece, I knew I’d found my calling. I also realized how lucky I am to truly love writing, even when I’m struggling to make a project work. I eventually moved on to writing nonfiction books and ghostwriting, and finally, my first love, fiction.

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?
Some people say they envy my life because I write fulltime and can set my own schedule, and while that’s true, writing is a business like any other. So, most of my time is spent working on nonfiction books I’m either writing or editing for clients. I’m also writing about writing these days, which is part my coaching practice. I have to laugh sometimes, because my work schedule sounds so incredibly dull. I start very early in the morning, often around 6:00 or 7:00 and I try to finish up for the day around mid-afternoon. See? Nothing very exciting or exotic about that. In order to write fiction, as well as keep up with client work, I often work weekends, and my very best days are those set aside to be with my characters and work on my novels. The next best days are those I spend with my writer friends. Do I want to write fiction fulltime one day? Absolutely. That’s my most important current goal. But I realize how fortunate I’ve been to have had an independent writing business virtually all my adult life.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My writer friends tell me that the way I feel about my characters and their lives after the novel ends borders on “eccentric.” It’s true that I see them in their locales going about their new lives. It’s as if I refuse to say goodbye to characters that mean so much to me. In writing about them, they become like family and friends, so why would they not simply go on with their lives, you know, have kids, take vacations, buy new houses? All the usual things we do in “real” life.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was a lucky kid, in that I grew up in Chicago with access to all kinds of opportunities. That meant my dream of being a ballet dancer could be matched with a Russian-trained, very strict dance teacher, who turned out professional dancers. At one point, I took the train from my city neighborhood downtown several times a week in order to take five dance classes in a single week. Wow—it was all about discipline and practice. I loved it. For various reasons, I decided not to become a professional dancer, but the discipline and focus I learned carried over to writing and was enormously beneficial. When I see young kids practicing their scales on the piano or devoting themselves to excelling in a sport, I think of the wonderful training they’re getting. No matter what they do in the future, that focus they’re experiencing will carry over. So my childhood dream has served me well!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?

I’d like to thank readers for continuing to read stories, even in this age of so many choices. I sure love movies and the wonderful TV dramas being made today, but is there anything quite like the solitary experience of losing ourselves in a book? Like most writers I enjoy picturing readers curled up on their couches or sitting at their kitchen tables or on the beach or traveling on a plane. I like to imagine readers absorbed in my characters’ dilemmas and joys and wondering what will happen next. There’s nothing trivial about storytelling, and I think about today’s readers and writers as being just like our ancient ancestors sitting around a fire listening to a good story. The yearning for stories is a part of us—our brains are wired for stories.


Thanks, Virginia!

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Special excerpt for romantic suspense Myth and Magic by Mae Clair

Today I’m featuring a special excerpt from Mae Clair’s romantic suspense novel Myth and Magic.

As Mae does her virtual book tour, she will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card 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!

Author bio:
Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back. Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars.

Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with mystery and romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.
Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at MaeClair.net.

A little bit about Myth and Magic:
Love and danger intertwine


Veronica Kent fell in love with Caith Breckwood when they were children. As a teenager, she was certain he was the man she was destined to marry. But a traumatic event from Caith's past led him to fear a future together. He left Veronica, hoping to save her from a terrible fate. Twelve years later, Caith, now a P.I., is hired to investigate bizarre incidents at the secluded retreat Veronica manages. Returning to his hometown, Caith is forced to face his nightmares—and his feelings for the woman he’s always loved.


After the callous way Caith broke her heart, Veronica isn’t thrilled to see him again. But strange occurrences have taken a dangerous toll on business at Stone Willow Lodge. Forced to work together, Veronica discovers it isn’t ghostly apparitions that frighten her, but her passion for a man she has never forgotten. Or forgiven. Can two people with a tarnished past unearth a magical future?

Excerpt from Myth and Magic:
The day had brought other changes, too—the faintest hint of stubble along his jaw, a smudge of ghost-gray shadow beneath his eyes. He looked exhausted, rumpled, and as sexy as hell. It took every effort to resist when he tried to pull her forward.

“You had your chance, Caith. All those years ago. Why can’t you accept Merlin and I are together?”

“You’re not. I know you’re not.” He tilted his head and the light struck his eyes, turning arctic blue to moon-silvered smoke. Cupping her cheek, he traced his thumb slowly to the peak of her upper lip. “You love him the way you’ve loved him since we were kids. There’s no fire with him, Ronnie. He’s comfortable and familiar.”

She wanted to deny it, but his gaze was mesmerizing, the murmur of his voice hypnotic. His thumb dipped lower, rested on her lips, then feathered across the bottom one. Unconsciously, her mouth parted. He tipped her chin up to his, drawing closer. “I want to kiss you.”

The pronouncement sent a shiver through her.

Feather-light, his touch played across her lips. Lowering his head, he dropped his voice to a silky whisper. “I want to go on kissing you.” His mouth hovered over hers. “Until you don’t know night from day, and all you want to do is kiss me back.”

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Special excerpt from urban fantasy novel Gate by Sam Rook

We’re helping Sam Rook wrap up her virtual book tour today with an exclusive excerpt from her epic urban fantasy novel Gate.

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

Author bio:
Sam Rook lives in Vermont with her husband and two children. Her passion for fantasy novels began in high school with her desire to write following shortly thereafter. Software engineer by day, fantasy author by night, she strives to give her readers a chance to enjoy worlds that transport them away from the stress of everyday life.

A little bit about Gate:
Kathryn returns to Av'lor after seven months on the Daemon home world, only to discover the Daemons have invaded Earth. With Av'lor on the brink of an uprising and an unknown enemy upon its doorstep, the knights divide their forces to safeguard both worlds.

Sir Lanclor, torn between his duty to Av'lor and his dedication to Kathryn, finds himself fighting a losing battle on Earth. He realizes the fate of both worlds rests in the unlikely alliance of technology and magic.

Overwhelmed by a new threat far beyond that of the Daemons, both Av'lor and Earth must face a devastating reality.

Exclusive Gate excerpt:
"Your knife, quickly!" She extended her hand to the dazed captain. With only a moment’s hesitation, he drew it and flipped it around, offering her the hilt. She gripped its handle and imbued it while she ran toward the Zahkrinon’s back as it towered over Lanclor’s crumpled form. "Mel’ati lenk’enterun ent’me’ant f’enk’e’elath shel’an’re." She threw herself between its massive wings and sunk the knife into its back up to the hilt. "Die, you bastard!" Fire poured through the knife into the creature’s body and it writhed and screamed, twisting and turning to try to dislodge her.

Kathryn’s grip slipped from the knife, and she flew to the right of the thrashing creature, but she continued to pour her magic through it, realizing she didn’t need to be in direct contact to continue its flow. The Zahkrinon’s scream echoed throughout the clearing and the remaining Daemons retreated through the broken canopy above. Kathryn crawled to Lanclor, creating a shield to protect him from the Zahkrinon’s death throes.

Only after the Zahkrinon stopped moving did she cut off the power to the knife, which continued to smoke. The cries of dying Daemons gradually faded as knights dispatched those wounded upon the ground. Moans of injured knights sounded around the encampment, creating an eerie atmosphere as the light of the afternoon dampened into evening. Lanclor remained unmoving on the ground before her.

"Kate, are you all right?" Hal peered from around the dead Zahkrinon.

"Could be better. You?"

"I could really use a beer." He stepped around the corpse and knelt down beside her, lowering his voice. "With Sir Lanclor out of commission, you’re next in line for orders. What do you want us to do?"


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