Tuesday, July 17, 2018

New interview with romance author Rachel Brimble

Novelist Rachel Brimble is back! Today we’re chatting about her new Edwardian romance/sage, The Mistress of Pennington’s.

During her virtual book tour, Rachel will be awarding a $25 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!

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a brand new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book is The Mistress of Pennington’s.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Rachel.

Please tell us about your newest release.
The Mistress of Pennington’s is an Edwardian romance/saga set in Bath’s finest department store. The theme is female empowerment and the story is about Elizabeth Pennington’s fight to convince her father that she should take her rightful place as heiress to Pennington’s Department Store. The story is full of ambition, intrigue, suspense and romance…

What inspired you to write this book?
I loved the TV series The Paradise and Mr Selfridge, but something was missing for me. I soon realised I wanted more focus on the female characters and the women’s issues of the day. I struggled for a long time wondering whether writing a book in a department store was the right thing to do but when Aria Fiction offered me a four-book deal on the basis of The Mistress Of Pennington’s, I was convinced my instinct to write a series was right!

Excerpt from The Mistress of Pennington's:
He moved to walk away, and she reached for his arm before she could think just how dangerous such contact could be. He halted, and even when he looked at her fingers clutched on his forearm, she did not remove them. It suddenly felt important she touch him; that he understood she had care for what he said or asked her.

Even though the physical contact set her heart racing, she held her grasp. ‘Why do you ask me about your family?’

He closed his eyes and dropped his chin to his chest.

Disquiet whispered through her. What had caused such uncharacteristic hesitation in him?

‘Joseph…’ She slid her hand from his arm, ignoring the pang of loss that the break of contact brought. ‘If there’s something bothering you, please, share it with me.’

He slowly raised his head, his blue eyes full of irritation once more. ‘I will, but not here. Not on the street. I’d prefer to come to your office tomorrow.’

How was she supposed to wait until tomorrow? Her curiosity was rife. It was clear something had changed between them. Something, it seemed, of which she was the cause.

She nodded. ‘I’ll send a message to you first thing in the morning.’

‘Thank you. Until then, I bid you good day.’

He walked away, leaving Elizabeth with questions and words flailing on her tongue. She stared after him, fearful of the pull deep in her chest that Joseph’s concerns had somehow become hers. No good could come of such caring. Her only goal should be proving her worth and capability in Pennington’s and beyond. She could not allow one man, any man, to have such an effect on her.

She inhaled a long breath and walked towards Pennington’s doors.

What’s the next writing project?
I am waiting for edits for Pennington book 2 (The Suffragette At Pennington’s releases Jan 2019) and also writing the first draft of Pennington’s book 3. I’ve also plotted a brand new contemporary romantic suspense which I hope to get started on within the next month or so. Busy, busy!

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
My biggest challenge is always ensuring the plot idea I have is strong enough to stretch to 90,000 words! I plan my books rather than just write by the seat of my pants but every book I write seems to come to a screeching stop around the 50,000 word mark and I have to figure out what’s missing. So far, I’ve managed to find it…often with the help of my critique partners! Writing is hard and, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to get any easier.

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?
A bit of both – before I start a book I read a lot about the period and issue I want to explore, if historical or the issue if I’m writing contemporary. I tend to plot quite a bit before I start writing but once I start, I write the first draft from beginning to end without looking back. If anything needs researching pops up during that first draft, I’ll make a note and push on. For me, moving forward is the best way to ensure a book is finished.

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 am lucky enough to have a home office with a huge antique white desk and bookshelves as well as two corkboards in front of me for all my story ‘visuals’. As I live in the UK, I am more or less in my office every day because of the weather but, in the summer months, there is nothing I love more than taking my laptop into the garden.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
So many! But my favourites are Nora Roberts and Jill Shalvis for contemporary and Philippa Gregory and Alex Grecian for historical. I read a lot of non-fiction historical stuff, too. Especially biographies of past British kings and queens.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Just to thank everyone who buys my books and has followed me on my journey – I appreciate every one of you! Oh, and my next release is Pennington’s book 2 – The Suffragette At Pennington’s is due for release in January 2019.


Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Interview with novelist Bobbie Smith

Novelist Bobbi Smith joins me today to chat about her new historical romance, Forbidden Fires.

During her virtual book tour, Bobbi will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) 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 tour stops and enter there, too.

After working as a department manager for Famous-Barr, and briefly as a clerk at a bookstore, Bobbi Smith gave up on career security and began writing. She sold her first book to Zebra in 1982.

Since then, Bobbi has written over 40 books and 6 novellas. To date, there are more than five million of her novels in print. She has been awarded the prestigious Romantic Times Storyteller of the Year Award and two Career Achievement Awards. Her books have appeared on numerous bestseller lists.

When she's not working on her novels, she is frequently a guest speaker for writer's groups. Bobbi is mother of two sons and resides in St. Charles, Missouri with her husband and three dogs.

You can follow Bobbi on Facebook in the group Bobbi Smith Books.

Bobbi has been awarded the prestigious “Storyteller of the Year” Award from Romantic Times Magazine (New York) and has attained positions on the New York Times Best Seller List, the USA Today Best Seller List, the Walden’s Best Seller List, B. Dalton’s List, and the Wal-Mart and K-Mart Best Seller Lists.

The foreign rights to Ms. Smith’s books have been sold to China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Russia and Sweden. Smith’s current publisher is Amazon. Bobbi has written two faith-based contemporary novels – Haven and Miracles – using the pseudonym of Julie Marshall.

Welcome, Bobbi. Please tell us about your current release.
When Ellen Douglass saves the Union officer from the cold river, she doesn't think this one action will so alter her future. But as Price holds her is his arms, they try to forget that they fight on opposing sides and will be kept forever apart.

What inspired you to write this book?
When I was young, my parents took me to a river museum where I learned about the steamboat Sultana. It was a steamer carrying Union Soldiers home at the end of the Civil War. The soldiers had just been released from Southern prison camps and were marched to Vicksburg, Mississippi where they were loaded onto the Sultana. The Sultana was only supposed to carry 400 passengers and crew. When it left Vicksburg, it had more than 2,000 people onboard. It only made it to West Memphis, Arkansas before the boilers exploded. I believe it was the greatest maritime disaster of all time, and the memory of it stayed with me all those years and inspired Forbidden Fires, my second book.

Excerpt from Forbidden Fires:
On the Mississippi near Memphis

The sound of the Sultana’s explosion brought Ellyn Douglass upright in bed. She ran from her room to find her grandfather already in the hall.

“What was that, Grampa?”

“It may have been a steamer . . .”

They rushed out onto the observation area to see the sky glowing a fiery red in the river’s direction.

“I’ve got to get to town,” he told her.

“I’ll come with you,” Ellyn offered.

“No. Stay here. If I need you, I’ll send word.” He hurried inside to get ready to leave.

Ellyn looked out toward the Mississippi. The steamer was farther south, drifting with the current. She decided at first light she would go down to the river.

At dawn, Ellyn hurried up to the observation area and searched the river for some sign of last night’s disaster. It was then she noticed something caught in a tree. Rushing from the house, she sought out Franklin.

“We have to get on the river right away.”


“Did you hear the explosion last night? I was checking this morning and I think there’s someone trapped in a tree.”

They hurried down to the river dock where the skiff was tied up. They pushed off and headed toward the flooded grove of trees.

“It’s a man!” Ellyn was shocked by the sight of the lone figure stranded motionless in the treetop.

Franklin maneuvered them in close and awkwardly managed to get the unconscious man into the boat.

“Is he alive?” Ellyn asked as she knelt next to him.

“Seems to be, but he’s cut up pretty bad.”

Ellyn tore off a strip of her petticoat and started to bandage the man’s bloody head wound. Much of his clothing had been ripped away from the force of the blast and he had been burned in several places.

The man groaned softly, and she reached out to soothe his brow.

“Hang on, mister. . . . Just hang on. . . .”

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I knew when I was in 5th grade that I wanted to write. In fact, we had to write an autobiography that year, and the last question the teacher wanted answered was – What do you want to be when you grow up? I wrote, ‘I want to be an author and I want to be a teacher.’

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 wrote full-time for almost thirty years. It’s been a great career. Back in the 80s, I was blessed to be able to stay home and work while my kids were young. My most creative times are early morning and evening, so I was at the computer no later than 8 a.m. every day and usually there until 11 at night.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I fell in love with women’s history during the course of my career. There were so many adventurous women out there we never learned about in history class, so I started my ‘Women Ahead of Their Times’ series. My books with ‘Lady’ in the title feature a heroine who isn’t afraid to take on a challenge – and a fantastic hero! In Lady Deception, our heroine is a female bounty hunter who is a master of disguise. In Weston’s Lady, the heroine is in a Wild West Show. The heroine in Outlaw’s Lady is a judge, and in Half-Breed’s Lady our heroine is an artist.


Thank you for joining me today, Bobbi. 
Thank you so much for having me on your blog site! I hope everyone enjoys my stories!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Interview with mystery author Mike Nemeth

Author Mike Nemeth is here today and we’re chatting about his new crime thriller, The Undiscovered Country.

Mike Nemeth was born and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin and is a die-hard Badger and Packer fan. A Vietnam-era Army veteran, he raised a daughter as a single parent while pursuing a career in high technology that took him from Atlanta to Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Florida before returning to Atlanta. He holds a private pilot’s license, once coached a state champion AAU basketball team, and is a golfer and motor-boating enthusiast.

In addition to his two novels, Mike has published two nonfiction works about sports: 128 Billion to 1, why no one can predict the outcome of the NCAA Basketball Tournament; and Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics, why the selection committee always chooses the wrong teams to play the college football National Championship. He also wrote “The Missing Ingredient,” an article published in The New York Times that explained why college football rankings are always wrong.

Welcome, Mike. Please tell us about your current release.
The Undiscovered Country is a southern family (dysfunctional) drama overlaid on a thriller/mystery plot with the mystery plot delivered upside down (or backward). There is a murder, but the characters (and readers) don’t know it happened until it is solved in the climax. Mystery writers compete with one another for ingenious methods of murder and in this case the “weapon” is unique in literature.

What happens in the story: Three siblings gather at the bedside of their critically ill mother. The eldest, Randle, is the protagonist, and he’s relentless in uncovering the secrets surrounding his mother, his own identity, and his broader family. He unravels layers of mystery concerning his mother’s medical care, her estate, a wealthy man who claims to be his birth father, and plots to embezzle the wealthy man’s estate. These secrets lead to the biggest secret about the murder.

What it’s about: The indignity of aging and dying, the need for a sense of identity, and what it means to be a southerner.

What inspired you to write this book?
My mother experienced a medical emergency similar to that of Randle’s mother. It was an agonizing experience that fortunately ended well. The situation provoked many heartbreaking, anger-inducing, and confusing episodes of behavior from various family members. It struck me that we do not do end-of-life well.

Excerpt from The Undiscovered Country:

As Shelby wiped a drop of water from Mom’s chin and I read the Wikipedia entry, an army of medical practitioners crowded into the room. Metzger, the cardiologist, led the invasion followed by Ms. Schmidt, who peeled off and leaned against the wall next to the door. Kaplan, looking sheepish, entered with a tall, bespectacled doctor I assumed to be Nieman, the ophthalmologist. Trailing behind was a fortyish doctor with patchy black hair. That had to be Rosenberg, the neurologist. At the last moment, Harrison, the immunologist, ducked in the door, completing the team.
Ms. Schmidt crossed her arms and adopted a haughty expression like that teacher you hated in fourth grade. Metzger spoke for the group, which was uniformly tense. “We don’t think you understand your mother’s prognosis, Mr. Marks. We’re all here to answer your questions, but I’ll summarize for you: The heart attack damaged her heart, and it’s barely pumping. She has a faulty mitral valve that will undoubtedly trigger another attack, and she won’t survive it. She’s blind, and that’s a very scary situation for her. She’s had several stokes, and they were likely connected to the heart attack.”
I glanced at Rosenberg and he cocked his head as though to say, “Maybe.” 
Metzger resumed his summation. “The fluid that had built up in her legs has now found its way to her lungs. If that isn’t reversed, we won’t have to wait for another A-fib episode—the pneumonia will end her life. And we’ve just discovered she has a strep infection that could be fatal.”
I glanced at Harrison. He shrugged.
Metzger was going to continue, but I cut him off. “I know she’s sick, doctor.”
“She’s very, very sick, Mr. Marks, and we can’t operate. The best thing would be to move her to a hospice where she can be cared for, a place where the family can make her last days comfortable.”
Metzger was fortunate I wasn’t holding a weapon. He saw my fury and held up a hand. “Sign the DNR, Mr. Marks. Save yourself the agony of life support and decisions about pulling the plug.” He gestured to Ms. Schmidt, who nodded. She had obviously organized this lynch party.
I waited for my body to return to a normal temperature. The group probably thought I was considering Metzger’s recommendation. I was not. As the tallest person in the room, I had a perch from which to deliver my response.
“That is a living, breathing, thinking, and feeling human being,” I said, pointing to my mother. “Assuming God has a plan, we’re all tools for His purposes. Your role as skilled tools is to heal that human being until His will overrides your skill. It’s not your prerogative to make decisions for Him, and it’s sure as hell not my job either.”
I heard intakes of breath and shuffling. Ms. Schmidt’s face contorted into an angry mask. “Let me remind you,” I continued, “that you all took the Hippocratic Oath and spoke aloud the words, ‘Above all, I must not play at God.’ I looked it up.”
Now the doctors gave one another embarrassed looks. I had them on the run. “I also looked up B streptococcus in the Wiki.” I waved my cell phone at them. “I learned that most people contract it in hospitals. Since my mother’s case wasn’t discovered until she had been here for thirty hours, I’d guess she contracted the infection right here in your hospital.”
Harrison turned scarlet. The other doctors avoided eye contact.
“If she dies of the infection, you can expect a lawsuit.”
Ms. Schmidt’s mouth formed a large “O.” Metzger inched toward me, invading my space. “See here, Marks, there’s no need to threaten us. We’re all trying to do what’s best.”
“Good. Then let’s get back to work.” I turned directly to Kaplan, the hospitalist. “If we can clear up the peripheral problems—infections and blindness—my mother can gain strength so Dr. Metzger can fix her heart. I am not going to let her die for lack of attention and neither are you.”
Metzger shook his head. “Believe me, Marks, there’s nothing I can do.” He muscled his way through the crowd toward the door. Before exiting, he said, “The rest of you can do what you want.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
Randle, my enduring protagonist, takes a job in the high tech industry and faces the replacement of middle class American workers by outsourcing, automation, artificial intelligence and robotics. That circumstance serves as backdrop to Randle’s continuing search for identity while his past continues to haunt and torment him. (“In the south, the past is never past.”)

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think a writer is born a writer. It’s not a vocation one chooses; it’s an inbred compulsion to express thoughts and feelings. This was confirmed relatively late in my life with the publication of my first novel, Defiled.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write every day, starting at 7:00am and continuing until I have a minimum of 1000 words or reach my target of 1500 words. However, once a writer is published, s/he becomes a small business person in the business of selling books and suddenly promotional work competes with writing time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I focus best amid chaos. Some of my best work has been produced on airplanes, at beaches, in hotel rooms and waiting rooms. As a substitute I plug in my headphones and listen to, and sing along with, rock-n-roll. My wife offered to ship me to a remote mountain cabin to concentrate, but I’m not sure that would work for me. It might be nice for her, though.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A lawyer. Still do. My father thought I should be a politician since I lied so glibly and convincingly as a child. Now I lie on paper.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I love interacting with readers and I’m thick-skinned, so I welcome all comments and suggestions.


Thanks for joining me today, Mike.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Interview with debut romance author Shalini Dua

Author Shalini Dua is here today and we’re chatting a little bit about her new YA new adult romantic comedy, The Secret Lives of Royals.

During her virtual book tour, Shalini will be awarding a $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.

An international upbringing and a love of stories laid the foundation for wanderlust. Shalini aspires to spend her time country-hopping and consuming pop-culture, comedy and good food but the reality is often frantically downing coffee, meeting deadlines at exactly the last second and working her unglamorous corporate job to fund all of the other pursuits.

The Secret Lives of Royals is Shalini’s debut novel. Her other work includes published poetry and scripts only she has read.

Welcome, Shalini. Please share a little bit about your current release.The Secret Lives of Royals is a contemporary fairytale about a royal secret society. Olivia is trying to make it in the New York publishing world and she is failing spectacularly. Until, out of the blue, she is handed her dream job.

As Olivia steps into the world of New York media, the secrets to her life upgrade are soon revealed. When Olivia learns of The Circle, a secret society with membership based on royal blood, she must decide if the cost of her dreams is worth the price she must pay. Can Olivia handle the weight of the crown?

The Devil Wears Prada meets The Adjustment Bureau in this YA/New Adult crossover tale.

What inspired you to write this book?
The Secret Lives of Royals has been rattling around in my head for years. Inspired by school history lessons, my travels and wanderlust for places I haven’t yet managed to visit, and by my love of food and art; Olivia’s story is a culmination of my journey thus far and the daydreaming I’ve done along the way. This novel is self-published, so I hope you will look past its raw state and enjoy the magic in this contemporary fairytale world.

Excerpt from
The Secret Lives of Royals:

We reach a pair of French doors that lead to the main event and they swing open as we approach.
“Welcome to the annual Royal Ball.” Our butler bows as he backs away.
We are greeted head on by music, lights and the brilliance one only finds at a Royal function. An usher directs us down a beautiful marble staircase, covered with a deep red carpet, to the party, which is already in full swing. We begin to descend and I gaze longingly at the gold banisters which would really help to navigate this obstacle course, heels on marble and carpet in front of many important people, as we are being announced.
I’m horrified and sure my face gives me away as I feel myself give in to my natural instincts and trip, about to plummet to a social death if just a physical bruising. Suddenly, I feel a hand around my waist steadying me and hear the announcer say,
“Miss Olivia Grace Thorpland and Mr. Alexander Windsor.” I gasp and find Alex by my side.
“The irony of your temperament and your name, Gracie.” He grins at me and winks subtly. “Don’t worry, I’ve got you. Look ahead, smile, no one noticed.” We glide down the staircase together, and I feel hot where his fingers are touching my arm. When we reach the bottom, I make my excuses and insist Sophia accompany me to somewhere else, anywhere else. But before I can escape, Alex takes my hand, kisses it and lets me go.
The music fluctuates between classic Hollywood and jazz styles applied to pop songs from the last three decades. It takes me a while to realize these are all being performed by Sheffield and Adeline. I’m at an event where the talent is a three-time Grammy winner and this year’s most trendy pop star. They are accompanied by what I’m sure is a very famous orchestra. To say this evening is surreal would be an understatement and the sensory assault is giving me a dizzying out of body experience. Connor introduces me to a lot of people I apparently should be knowing. However, I’m a little distracted, drinking it all in, and don’t get a lot of what he is telling me.
The most delectable hors d'oeuvres are passed, and I’m enjoying sampling all of them until I almost gag when Sophia says,
“The escargot is divine isn’t it?” and unintentionally informs me that I have just eaten a snail. Right, forgot I’m in France. Unfortunately, Alex chooses that moment to walk over, and I’m gagging as he is trying to get my attention.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the follow-up to The Secret Lives of Royals, a new novel about a circus and a book of poetry.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When, after graduation while working in finance, I couldn’t bring myself to stop writing, even though there was no assignment, no deadline and no impetus for the work.

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 work in marketing and content production from 9-5 and I’m a writer 5-9. My day job does involve some copywriting work for a variety of clients. I have to make time to write. It’s very important to me so I have to really commit to it.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I doodle on myself, giving myself temporary tattoos, when I write.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A singer – quickly realized that would never happen as I do not possess even the remote ability to sing.

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