Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Interview with short story writer Jolene Stockman

Short story writer Jolene Stockman is here today to chat about her new YA illustrated motivational collection, Total Blueprint for World Domination.

During her virtual book tour, Jolene will be awarding a $75 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.

Jolene Stockman is a multi-award winning author, speaker, and business owner. She is also tangata whaitakiwātanga; an autistic person. Since her adult diagnosis, she has gone public with her experience - its challenges and superpowers as a TEDx Talk. Her books let you uncover your superpowers to design (and dominate!) your dream world.

Please tell us a little bit about Total Blueprint for World Domination.
Total Blueprint for World Domination is a motivational non-fiction book for young adults. Design your dream world and make it happen! Bursting with full-color superheroes, boosted with online learning, the new edition of Total Blueprint for World Domination - illustrated takes you from this very second to your greatest dreams. So, are you ready?

What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
Time is a precious commodity! When I write non-fiction, I go straight for the juicy stuff. I hate it when people bury the jewels in a heap of fluffy text. I believe that words can change the world, and those words can be very few, especially if they’re right on target! I love it when people describe my work as concise: sometimes it only takes a few words to change the way you feel about something. Like instead of saying “I have to tidy my desk” you can say; “I choose to tidy my desk” to feel more empowered. Or instead of seeing yourself as “oversensitive”, you can see yourself as “super sensitive”. A little twist, a big difference!

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
My books are super-short. They’re designed to be jam-packed with inspiring, actionable content so people feel excited to jump into their life. My favorite book is always the one in front of me! It really is like children really; you love them all completely for the things that make them them.

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
Motivational non-fiction is my go-to. Even if I start out with blood, conflict, and drama, it always ends up in the same place: a new world where anything is possible! I think it’s because personally I’ve worked hard to  

What exciting story are you working on next?
Ooh, I have another book in the blueprint series, a screenplay, and a heap of autism presentations. One of the reasons being a writer is so cool, is that you can do it online with a computer, or in the library on scraps of paper.

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
Keep in mind the real reason you want to be a writer: is it to be famous? To be rich? To connect with readers? To tell a story? Writing is a calling, but it is also work – and knowing your reason for doing it, your powerful why, will keep you working when it gets hard. When selling my writing, I look for markets that relate to subjects I’m excited about. Publishing can be an achingly slow process, so my advice is to be excited, but try not to care too much! Keep writing. Submit work. Forget about it. Write more. Post it. Write more. Blog it. Write more. Edit it, publish it, critique it. Write more and let it go. It’s not about writing one perfect thing, it’s about keeping your flow going and loving what you do.  

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
The media that I consume is very different to the work that I create. I love crime fiction, heavy metal, Supernatural, Tarantino movies. But when I write? It’s all fizzy sunshine! I think of myself as being dark and twisty. But when I write, rainbows and cupcakes come out! I used to find it frustrating, but now I just go with it. Sometimes it’s the dark makes the light possible.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child, I couldn’t have dreamed of the incredible world we live in now. We can connect with each other across time and space at the click of a button. I always knew that my ultimate plan was to write books. My until-I-was-a-grown-up plan was to find a way to write for a job, and I’ve been lucky to work in many different industries: I’ve been a copywriter, a scriptwriter, a technical writer, an educational writer. I love all the different ways that you can use words to express ideas or support people and business. Imagine what children now will grow up to be!  

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I so appreciate your support! When you start writing, you picture holding your book in your hands, seeing it at the library, and on shelves in bookstores. You imagine all the things you’re excited about and when it happens it’s like magic. But then it becomes clear: the best, most amazing part of being a writer is the readers. It’s the connections, it’s knowing that your words are being read and you’re making a difference. I live my dreams because of you and I so appreciate everyone who reads and reviews my books, who host me on their blog, and who remind me how powerful words are.


Thank you for being here today!

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Interview with fantasy author Erin Jensen

Novelist Erin A. Jensen is here today to kick off a new week. She’s chatting with me about her new contemporary fantasy, Benevolent.

During her virtual book tour, Erin 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!

Erin Jensen is the Amazon International bestselling author of The Dream Waters Series. She was awarded the Bronze Medal for fantasy fiction in the 2018 Readers' Favorite international book awards. She also received Honorable Mention for fantasy fiction in the 2018 Writer's Digest self-published e-book awards. A part-time pharmacist and a full-time daydreamer, she resides in upstate New York with her ridiculously supportive husband, two teenage sons--who are both taller than her--and a Yorkshire terrier who thinks he's the family bodyguard.

Welcome, Erin. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Benevolent is the story of Abigail Perkins, a Supernatural fan whose guardian angel appears to her in the likeness of her favorite character from the show, the angel Castiel. The story is told from Abigail’s point of view as she revisits the moments that defined her life while on her deathbed. In her younger years, Abigail was bullied at school and felt pretty isolated at home. She took solace in her friendship with one close friend and in Supernatural, the television show they both loved. In the first memory we see through Abigail’s eyes, her only friend is losing his battle with cancer and the doctors don’t expect him to live through the night. Abigail’s mother won’t take her to the hospital to say goodbye because her friend’s mother wants her to remember him the way he was before he got sick. Abigail cries herself to sleep that night, and she wakes to find the angel from the T.V. show she’s always taken comfort in standing at the foot of her bed. The story goes back and forth between Abigail’s end-of-life moments with her family and her memories of the angel who visited her dreams during the difficult times throughout her life.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was binge-watching Supernatural on Netflix while writing the fourth book in my Dream Waters Series. One night, I sat down to write after watching an episode of the show, but my mind was still stuck on Castiel, the show’s utterly endearing trench-coat-wearing angel. So I pushed Book Four aside and went online to find out whether his character was based on an angel from the Bible, thinking maybe I’d write a book about angels and demons in the future. My search eventually led me to YouTube clips of Misha Collins, the actor who plays Castiel. The more I learned about him and Random Acts — the charity he co-founded — the more intrigued I became. Then I stumbled onto a video from Misha’s panel at a Supernatural convention where he shared that fans often tell him and his co-stars Supernatural was the only that thing kept them going at a time when they considered ending their life. All of those elements I unearthed during my internet search wove together to become the story concept that I was too inspired to hold off on writing. So I took a year off from my series to write Benevolent, knowing I would donate the proceeds to Random Acts.

Excerpt from Benevolent:
I flashed him a sympathetic smile. “What are you thinking?”

“I have never understood why humans are so moved by music,” he muttered as his eyes searched mine.

“Music is the closest thing that we have to magic,” I confided in a reverent whisper, “because it has the power to anchor us to a moment in time.”

His half-smile conveyed a heartwarming mix of curiosity and affection. “How so?”

I felt my face flush a shade darker as I grinned at him. “When we hear a song from our past, it conjures up all the old sensations that we felt when we first heard it.”

He eyed me with a perplexed frown as he took a step toward me. “How can a combination of man-made instruments and human vocal chords wield that sort of power?”

“I can’t explain it with words,” I whispered, “It’s something that you just have to feel.”

He stood there staring at me with that puzzled expression on his face as I stepped closer and carefully inserted the earpiece in my hand into his left ear, so the music connected the two of us, just as surely as the cord connected the earbuds in our ears. “Maybe you’d understand what I mean if you danced to the music.”

“I don’t dance,” he muttered as he watched me begin to sway to the beat.

I smiled at him as I took his hands in mine and moved his arms in time with the music, like a puppeteer pulling a life-sized marionette’s strings. “Anyone can dance. You just have to let go and let the music guide your movements.”

A skeptical frown spread across his face as he watched me, but he let me direct his movements nonetheless. He was stiff and awkward at first but as the music grew louder, he seemed to find the rhythm. “These words are nonsense,” he muttered.

“Shhh,” I whispered, “Don’t think. Just feel.”

He was a remarkably fast learner, but I suppose being on earth since the dawn of time had given him plenty of opportunities to watch humans dance. Once he started to feel the music, he moved with all the grace that you’d imagine an angel would.

“Hey Jude” gradually faded away until there was nothing but silence in our twin earpieces.

We stopped moving and stood there staring at each other while we waited for the next song to guide our movements.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I just finished the manuscript for the fourth book in my Dream Waters Series (the book I set aside to write Benevolent). That book is now in the hands of my beta readers. My next book will be the fifth (and probably the final) book in the series. I’ve also been collaborating with ROC Vox Recording & Production Studio on Benevolent’s audiobook, which I’m narrating. I have to admit narrating is a bit outside my comfort zone, but that’s part of the fun of this whole journey as an author. I love pushing myself to do new things that both excite and slightly terrify me!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Well, now I would say it was the day I began writing my debut novel in secret. But back then, I didn’t feel qualified to call myself a writer until I received my first review. It was from the Manhattan Book Review. After getting a five-star review from them, I felt confident telling the world that I was a writer.

Do you write full-time? What do you do other than write and how do you find the time to write?
I’m a full-time writer, a mother and a part-time pharmacist. Until recently, I worked four short shifts at the pharmacy and squeezed in my writing time whenever I could, but it was hard for me to shift into the creative mindset after getting out of work. My new manager adjusted my schedule so that I now work two full days at the pharmacy, and I have three weekdays to devote to writing. I was so thankful to him for working his magic that I named a character in my fourth book after him. Nothing says “thank you” quite like the head of a royal dragon family who bears your name!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Well, I’m a visually-oriented writer. My stories have always played out like movies in my head. When I create a new character, I almost always pick an actual actor to play the part in my head. I keep pictures of those actors on my iPad and I watch YouTube clips from their movies, T.V. shows and interviews so their appearances, voices and mannerisms are fresh in my mind while I write. When I describe a new character, I’m usually looking at a picture of the actor I envision playing him.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Honestly, I don’t really recall having a burning desire to take a certain career path as a kid. I think my head was always kind of in the clouds, fantasizing about all sorts of spectacular scenarios. Turns out, other people enjoy the stories I dream up just as much as I do! So I guess in my heart, I’ve always been a storyteller. I just needed to find the confidence to share my stories with the world.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just a bit of advice that it took me a long time to figure out: Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that your dream is impossible. If there’s something you feel passionate about doing, get out there and follow your dreams. Life is short and in the end the only things worth regretting are the chances you didn’t take, and the things you left unsaid or undone. Chasing after your dreams might be terrifying, but even if you fail spectacularly you’ll never have to look back on your life and wonder what might have been if you’d been bold enough to take that risk.

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Absolutely. It was my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me!

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Interview with mystery writer Sallie Moppert

Mystery novelist Sallie Moppert joins me today. We’re chatting about her new novel, Good Cop Bad Cop.

During her virtual book tour, Sallie will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift cart to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

A New York native, Sallie has a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice, with a Specialization in Forensic Science. A lifelong mystery fan, she has combined her love and passion for writing with her interests in criminal justice, law, and forensic science.
Sallie currently resides in New York with her family and her “zoo,” which includes two dogs, two guinea pigs, a betta fish and a leopard gecko. She works as a freelance writer/editor and a legal assistant.

Welcome, Sallie. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Good Cop Bad Cop is a series of short stories, each with its own mystery, that follows the life of Samuel Marlowe from his first days as a cop to his rise to become the top detective in the department and the pressures he faces to uphold the law or to take matters of justice into his own hands. Sam learns that justice isn’t always black and white and has to decide whether to use his position as the lead detective at the department to stay on the straight and narrow as a good cop or venture off as a bad cop. Of course, the road he takes for either path is full of obstacles and challenges-such as the shooting death of his mentor, breaking up a kidnapping and prostitution ring across the country, or having his high school reunion held up by a former bully out for revenge-along the way, enough to make him reconsider his choices before he is too far down a dark path with no return (dun-dun-dun!).

What inspired you to write this book?
The first story from Good Cop Bad Cop, also named Good Cop Bad Cop, I started writing was for a contest and I instantly fell in love with Sam. He wasn’t your typical good guy cop but, at the same time, he still was a good guy and an even better cop. His dialogue was also very entertaining to write, as he is sarcastic and doesn’t hold back; Sam says what needs to be said in order to get the culprit. After I wrote Sam for the first time, I knew I wanted to include him in more works, so I composed two additional stories featuring Sam and his partner, Dahlia. I ended up writing the middle story in the collection, The Gray Area, second, and the first story in the collection, Second Chances, third. The next task for me was to figure out how the Sam in Second Chances ended up as the Sam at the end of the book in Good Cop Bad Cop and that was a challenge but a lot of fun.

Here is an excerpt from Fight or Flight:

            Stephen Rochecort did his best to swallow, a task made far more difficult on account of his desert-dry mouth. He’d just started a job at Odette Penitentiary, located in Colorado. If Stephen was honest with himself, he was completely and utterly terrified of being around so many dangerous and violent criminals.
            “They’re like animals,” Warden Chandler had said at roll call that morning. “They can sense your fear.”
            Yeah, that nugget of wisdom was going to make him feel better. Instead, it only served to make him feel even more anxious and want to reconsider his life choices. Hell, a six figure salary wouldn’t be enough for his shit.
            Stephen let out a breath and straightened his posture in an attempt to portray an air of confidence before entering the cell block. The instant he stepped into Cell Block C, the row of jail cells transformed into a zoo, as the caged prisoners began hooting and hollering in an attempt to rattle the rookie guard.
            “Hey there, cutie!” one prisoner shouted. “Damn, you got a tight ass!”
            Stephen shuddered. He never knew innocent phrases like that could sound so menacing.
            “Yo guard,” a cue ball prisoner with various gang tattoos and an unpleasant beckoned Stephen over with his finger. “Hey, you! Come here.”
            Stephen ignored him, not wanting to instigate any further bad behavior, instead locking his eyes on the door at the other end of the hall. The cue ball, however, did not appreciate being slighted. He banged violently on his cell door and unleashed a litany of profanity.
            Stephen tugged at the collar of his uniform, beads of sweat popping up on his forehead and at the nape of his neck. “When did it get so hot in here?” Stephen mumbled to himself. “I can see the door at the end of the hall. If I can reach the door, I can get the hell away from these guys. I can make it. I can make it.”
            He picked up the pace, fumbling around in his pockets for his keys. Stephen managed to locate his keys and gripped the one for the door tightly, figuring he’d probably have a permanent indentation in his palm in the shape of the key from the death grip he had on it. But that didn’t matter; the door was in sight.
            The keys in his hand jingled against each other as Stephen brought them up to the door with a shaking hand. As he did, a loud buzzer sounded and the cell doors slammed open with a clang.
            “All prisoners report to C Yard for exercise,” a guard commanded over the PA system.
            Stephen slunk into a corner to avoid the Cue Ball, but the prisoner had other ideas.
            “Hey, when I tell you to come, you come,” he growled, shoving Stephen. “You may have the badge, but I rule this place.”
            “Knock it off Dantes!” one of Stephen’s coworkers, Clinton, yelled.
            The other guard hurried over to Stephen and got between Dantes and him.
            “Don’t mind him,” Clinton said. “Dantes has been kind of cranky ever since he found out that the Warden broke up his little gang, putting his little friends in different Cell Blocks and transferring some to other prisons. Now he has no one to boss around; poor baby!”
            Stephen glanced back over his shoulder, his fingers and toes tingling as he took a look at the prisoner; Dantes didn’t appear to be too pleased with the guard’s comments.
            “Ay!” the prisoner grabbed the guard’s shoulder and spun him around. “Us prisoners run this bitch, not you screws!”
            “Back off, Dantes,” Clinton said, throwing the prisoner’s hand off his shoulder. “I’m warning you.”
            “Warning me?” Dantes got in Clinton’s face. “Oh yeah? Whaddya gonna do?”
            Clinton’s hand hovered over the can of pepper spray in his utility belt as Dantes towered over him. Stephen rushed forward to assist his coworker but, by this time, Dantes’ fellow prisoners had gathered behind their leader as backup and stopped him in his tracks. One of the other prisoners seemed to notice Clinton’s hand hovering over the pepper spray and decided to strike first. He put Clinton in a headlock from behind while some of the other prisoners held Stephen back.
            A sinister grin appeared on Dantes’ lips. Stephen heard about him during training; the undisputed leader of C Block, Dantes’ word was law.
            “It’s time these guards see what it’s like on the other side of the bars!”
            Dantes’ declaration was followed by a chorus of cheers, hooting and hollering. Stephen closed his eyes as he wished he had reconsidered his life choices while chants of “riot” echoed throughout the cell block. 

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have several more stories with Sam planned out or already written that include his various partners throughout the book, Edwin, Peter and Dahlia. They have a lot of fun crimes to solve, including more murders, rape, stalking and so much more (okay, not fun for those involved but fun for us to solve!).

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think there’s probably two instances in which I truly began to think of myself as a writer. I had my first short story published at 18 years old in a local young writer’s anthology. That was the first piece of fiction that I had published and it was a wonderful moment. My English teacher, who was the person who had announced that the anthology was accepting applicants, was thrilled when I showed her the acceptance letter and posted it on the chalkboard to celebrate my success. The second instance was when I was accepted for a position as a freelance writer for a local newspaper. It was a great learning experience to be able to use my skills on a daily basis and it also presented me with the opportunity of being able to introduce myself as a writer!

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I would love to be able to write full time, but my bills and expenses say otherwise! Plus, I have to take care of my family’s “zoo” (two dogs, two guinea pigs, a leopard gecko, two dwarf hamsters, two betta fish and an aquarium with corydora catfish) somehow :) I work at a law office during the day. I don’t really have a set writing schedule. I may sometimes write or read during my lunch breaks or I might have my notebook out while my sister and I play some video games at night and I’ll get some paragraphs in while it’s her turn. I make sure to carry a notebook or pad of paper around with me most of the time because you never know when you’re going to be hit with a good idea or quote. My favorite time to write is when I have time off or on weekends during the summer. I love to grab a blanket, notebook and my radio and just spend the day outside writing (if I can get to my blanket, that is; my dogs like to commandeer my blanket if I get up to go grab a water bottle or something because they’re spoiled puppers and I love them).  

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
One quirk that I have is that I include a lot of little references to things I like or are important to me. For example, the colors of the high school that Sam and Nina attend in GCBC are blue and gold, which just so happen to be the colors of my favorite sports team. The restaurant where the beginning of Victims of Circumstance takes place, Quincy’s, is named after my dog, Quincy. 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember deciding I wanted to become an author at about age 13. That was when I started writing my first mystery novel. After I started writing that first novel, I’ve never looked back :)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I am a HUGE animal lover. Between the two of us, my sister and I have quite the “zoo” going - including two dogs, two guinea pigs, two dwarf hamsters, a leopard gecko, two betta fish, and an aquarium with corydora catfish. I also love sports, video games and arts and crafts, I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and I’m working toward my black belt in karate; I’m all over the place with my interests :)


Thanks for stopping by today, Sallie!

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Monday, August 12, 2019

Interview with novelist Ruby Lang

Romance author Ruby Lang joins me today and we’re chatting about her new contemporary romance, Playing House.

During her virtual book tour, Ruby will be awarding a digital copy of Playing House 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!

Ruby Lang is the author of the acclaimed Practice Perfect series. She is pint-sized, prim, and bespectacled. Her alter ego, Mindy Hung, wrote about romance novels (among other things) for The Toast. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Walrus, Bitch, and other fine venues. She enjoys running (slowly), reading (quickly), and ice cream (at any speed). She lives in New York with a small child and a medium-sized husband.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Playing House is about two city planner acquaintances, Fay and Oliver, who accidentally run into each other during a historic homes tour and feign being in a relationship in order to thwart the tour Romeo. They end up having so much fun that they continue to look at apartments and houses (and to pretend they’re a couple) over the course of several weekends. It’s the first book in my Uptown series about life, love, and real estate.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by the seeing gentrification of Harlem, and also by my planner friends. I liked the idea of setting the story in a place with a rich history, but that is entering a period of change. The characters also have a history, and they’re in the midst of re-evaluating their lives and relationships.

Excerpt from Playing House:
Oliver sagged in relief—and a little disappointment. When the crowd passed beneath them through the front hall, he turned to Fay and she turned to him and they said, simultaneously, “Are you okay?”

A pause.

Fay started again. “He was so persistent. Sorry to involve you.”

Then, as if realizing they were still standing close, Fay slipped her arm out from his and they stepped away from each other.

“Don’t apologize. It’s messed up that you felt like you needed a cover.”

Fay shook her head as if to clear it. “That was tense, wasn’t it? He started pestering me one house back on the tour. I said I wasn’t interested, and he didn’t listen. When we got to this house, I told him I had a boyfriend and then I started trying to edge back downstairs to find the greeter when you arrived. But really it was nothing. It was fine.”

Oliver was quiet for a bit, trying to process what she’d said. She was slightly embarrassed judging from her abrupt manner—not that she had anything to be ashamed of at all. But the other thing that stood out was that she’d made up a fake boyfriend instead of referring to her husband. Which meant… He glanced at her hand. No ring. Maybe she wasn’t married anymore. So not the point here. But why did he suddenly feel so—not happy, not relieved, but…alert? Interested.

He hadn’t felt interested in anything for a long time.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m finishing up edits for House Rules, which is about a long-divorced pair who end up as roommates in a spacious Harlem apartment. It’s the third book in my Uptown series and it comes out in February 2020.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started writing my first novel during summer vacation I was 15 or 16. It was a retelling of a fairy tale and I wrote a draft and was terribly proud of myself, only to discover that Newbery-winning YA-fantasy writer Robin McKinley had published a book based on the same story and had done it better. Oddly enough, that spurred me to write more. After all, if the source material was fascinating to Robin McKinley, maybe I was onto something.

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 at the moment (although I take freelance editing work during the year depending on deadlines). I usually sit down at my desk with a cup of tea after my kid and husband go out the door in the morning. If I’m feeling stuck, I pack up and go to the library, or to a café. If I’m working from home, I intersperse writing with laundry. If I’m at the library, I usually get in a good chunk of words, then give myself permission to wander between the shelves.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’ll get up in the middle of the night and (try to) quietly scribble down an idea in the dark, usually without my glasses on. (Because what’s the use of glasses in the dark?) My husband has grown accustomed to having me sit bolt upright and diving for a pen and paper. And I’ve gotten used to setting out a pad opened to a blank page in order to capture my night-brain wanderings.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a botanist, a clothing designer, an English professor, and a writer. All of these interests and ambitions will probably end up in a book someday.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks so much for reading and for having me on the blog to talk about my writing and Playing House!

Social media links:

Buy links:

Thanks for stopping by today. Happy writing!

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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Interview with romantic suspense author Jacki Kelly

Romantic suspense author Jacki Kelly joins me today to chat about her new novel, In Pursuit of Perfection.

During her virtual book tour, Jacki 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!

Men and women have always sought the promise that only love can offer. Jacki invites you into an intriguing world where romance abounds around every corner and down every street. You’ll be amazed at the crazy things we do and don’t do for the promise of love.

Jacki has been writing since her fourth grade teacher made her keep a journal for a grade. Now she does it to keep track of all the fascinating and heartbreaking moments that life throws our way. Poetry, personal essays, short stories and novels have all occupied space in her heart and her hard drive.

Jacki lives in the northeast where the winters are too cold and the summers are warm. But, she wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else, well maybe for a fabulous house on the sunny sands of Miami Beach in February. Her loveable husband and adorable floppy eared dog endure her long periods behind the computer creating happy-endings for her amazing hero and heroines. Romance makes the world go round and Jacki is enjoying the ride.

Welcome, Jacki. Please share a little bit about your current release.
The next man in Macy Rollins’s life must be perfect. She’s had enough impostors and isn’t willing to settle for anything less. All she has to do is get through the company contract negotiation season and she will get that promotion she has been working so hard for. Avery Malveaux – one of Philadelphia’s most eligible bachelors – has been hired to work with her as legal counsel for the company. From the moment they are forced to work together tensions are high and expectations are low. He questions her ability, she questions his intentions. After Macy is suspected in an accounting shortage, she accuses Avery of betraying her confidence. Has she once again been deceived by a man she thought she could trust? Can she clear her name and win her job back? And can there be any hope for Macy’s pursuit of perfection.

What inspired you to write this book?
I worked in corporate America for several years and I learned sometimes it took more than just doing a good job to climb the corporate ladder. So I wanted to show a heroine juggling work, office politics and a relationship.

Excerpt from In Pursuit of Perfection:
She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. All her thoughts whirled around the hurt little girl her father left standing in the doorway. That was the 202 area code number that kept showing up on her phone. She sighed. Brian had been too young to understand the destruction their father had caused. But she couldn’t forget, and she couldn’t forgive.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next book drops later this year. It’s entitled Trouble in Paradise, it’s the second book in the Sebastian Island Series. I’ve also begun the next book in the Pursuit series – entitled In Pursuit of Payback. So I encourage your readers to be on the lookout for both.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started writing poems, then moved to short stories. This was all while I was still in grade school. I started believing I could be a writer when I started making up stories for my sister and me when we played with our dolls. Writing is something I’ve always done. In 2012, I decided to get serious and see if I could get a novel published.

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’ve been a fulltime writer since 2015. I usually sit down at my desk after breakfast and try to get at least one thousand words on the page. In the afternoon, I’m doing writing-related tasks – reaching out to readers, social media, marketing or plotting a new story.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or drawing. When the weather is perfect, I’ll get out on the golf course and smack the ball around with my husband.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My interesting writing quirk is that I won’t let anyone read my books until I’m sure I know where the story is going. I also won’t give the book a title right away.  Usually I wait and see what strikes me mid-way through the book.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a journalist, but my mother wanted me to do something that would get me a job when I graduated from college. So like a good daughter, I studied Business Administration. Now, I’m in full pursuit of something I’m passionate about – writing.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog today!

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Interview with mystery author Jane Renshaw

Mystery novelist Jane Renshaw is here today and we’re chatting about The Sweetest Poison.

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

Having discovered early in her 'career' that she didn't have what it takes to be a scientist, Jane Renshaw shuffled sideways into scientific and medical editing, which has the big advantage that she can do it while watching Bargain Hunt! Jane writes what she loves to read – series of novels in which the reader can immerse herself, which let her get to know an engaging, interesting and/or terrifying cast of characters slowly, in the same way you get to know people in real life. Ideally, the drama should be played out in a gorgeous setting, and the cast should include at least one dangerously charismatic, witty, outrageous protagonist with whom the reader can fall in love. A bit of murder and mayhem in the mix never hurts either... Hence the Pitfourie Series.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
When she was eight years old, Helen Clack was bullied so mercilessly that she was driven to a desperate act. Now she is being targeted once more, but this time her tormentor’s identity is shrouded in doubt.

When her life starts to disintegrate, she flees home to the wilds of north-east Scotland, and to the one man she knows can help her – Hector Forbes, the dubiously charismatic Laird of Pitfourie, with whom she has been hopelessly in love ever since those hellish days in the school playground, when he was her protector, her rescuer, her eleven-year-old hero.

But is Hector really someone she can trust?

And can anyone protect her from the terrible secret she’s keeping?

What inspired you to write this book?
To be honest, I’m mainly inspired not by anything in the real world but by reading, by immersing myself in books in which I can fall in love with the characters, and be desperate to know what happens to them. The characters have to be complicated and three-dimensional and do interesting/alarming/funny things, but also have interesting/alarming/funny conversations. Ideally, one of them should contrive to be murdered. In my writing, I’m trying to create that sort of experience for other readers.

Of all the writers who inspire me, Dorothy Dunnett has to be at the top of the list. I always feel bereft when I finish the Lymond Chronicles for the umpteenth time!

Excerpt from The Sweetest Poison:
Helen looked up at the tree. There were plenty of pods hanging down from it, like peapods only skinnier.
How many would she need?
Yesterday when she was helping Daddy with the bales she had asked him, ‘How many laburnum seeds would someone have to eat before they died?’ and he’d shaken his head and said, ‘Hel’nie. You mustn’t ever take seeds from that tree,’ and she’d said, ‘I won’t. But how many would someone have to eat?’ and he’d shaken his head and said, ‘I don’t know, and I’m not just awful keen to find out.’
Helen wriggled her schoolbag off her back and dropped it down on the grass.
No one would see. The byre was between the tree and the kitchen window, and Daddy had gone up the fields to look at the calfies.
To reach the pods she would have to climb up on the fence, but Suzanne had shown her how to climb on barbed wire. She put one hand on the fence post under the tree, and one hand on the top wire, and climbed with her bum sticking out to keep her legs away from the jags. The wires were wobbly but she didn’t fall off. When she was high enough she let go the hand on the fence post and reached up and grabbed one of the pods.
It was as if the branch didn’t want to let go.
When they were little, Suzanne used to say peas were the pea plant’s children, and the peapod was a coat it had made for them, and when you ate peas you were eating the children. Even when she was little Helen hadn’t actually believed that, but now she couldn’t help thinking that the seeds were the tree’s children.
It had plenty though.
She leant out away from the fence so she could pull better, and the branch stretched and stretched but then it suddenly let go and flapped back. Helen grabbed the post.
She didn’t fall.
She could see the bumps of the seeds inside the pod. There were six.
Would that be enough?

What exciting story are you working on next?
At the moment I’m working on Book 2 in the series: Bad Company.

It’s winter at Pitfourie, and undercover policewoman Claire Castleford arrives from London to investigate the suspicious death of a colleague – inadequately supplied with thermal underwear and insufficiently forewarned about certain aspects of the suspect’s character. She’s falling for the bastard. To add to her problems, she’s trying to pass herself off as a housekeeper at the domestic goddess end of the spectrum, but has spent her whole life resisting domestication in all its forms.

She’s not letting that worry her, though.

How hard can it be to boil an egg?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I remember the moment vividly. I was watching TV when the phone rang (this was in the days of landlines!) and a husky voice introduced herself as one of the agents at the top of my list (not sure if I should say who), who’d read the opening chapter of The Sweetest Poison (which was then called Natural Victim) and loved it! I was so scared and excited I wasn’t able to respond coherently. I babbled about hoping she wasn’t disappointed with the rest of the book, and her response was: ‘Even if there are problems, don’t worry, because YOU ARE A WRITER.’ Ironically, there were problems with the rest of the book, and I ended up putting it in a drawer for a long time (writer, huh?), until I reworked it and sent it out again and another agent picked it up... But I’ll never forget that moment, and will always be grateful for the first agent’s reassurance and encouragement.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
No, I’m not lucky enough to write full-time. I need to pay the bills! I work part-time as a freelance copy editor and am also involved in caring for a family member. It’s quite hard to find time to write, and days or weeks can go by without much progress. When I am in writing mode, I find it easiest to be productive in the mornings. Sometimes it’s hard to get into a scene, but other times I’m suddenly ‘in the zone’ and seeing the action playing out in my mind’s eye. It’s a bit like watching a film, but having complete directorial control.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know about interesting, but I find that bribing myself with online games works well. ‘Just get to the end of this scene,’ I tell myself, ‘and you can play a game of Tetris!’

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An intrepid zoologist exploring the Amazon Basin! I did end up studying biology, but that’s as close as I got. Now I get my zoology kicks from watching birds in the garden. Not quite the Amazon, but I love getting to know them as individual characters. Bertie the robin even comes to my hand for food!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Please take a look at my writing friends’ stuff:

Lucy Lawrie, writer of Tiny Acts of Love (The Sun: ‘funny, poignant and honest’) and The Last Day I Saw Her (This Chick Reads: ‘No wonder I devoured this book in one day, everything about it is brilliant’)

Lesley McLaren, nature writer extraordinaire: www.mediterraneanpyrenees.com

Oh, and I would love to hear from any readers who would like to get in touch via my website.


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

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