Thursday, December 5, 2019

Interview with detective/mystery author Austin S. Camacho

Novelist Austin S. Camacho joins me today to chat about his new detective mystery, The Wrong Kind.

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

Austin S. Camacho is the author of seven novels about Washington DC-based private eye Hannibal Jones, five in the Stark and O’Brien international adventure-thriller series, and the detective novel, Beyond Blue. His short stories have been featured in several anthologies including Dying in a Winter Wonderland – an Independent Mystery Booksellers Association Top Ten Bestseller for 2008. He is featured in the Edgar-nominated African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey. Camacho is also editorial director for Intrigue Publishing, a Maryland small press.

Welcome, Austin. Please share a little bit about your current release.
The Wrong Kind is the seventh novel featuring Washington DC private detective Hannibal Jones. This time a distraught woman hires him to track down her daughter who has run away, trying to escape the homeless shelter life her mother has come to accept. When Hannibal finds Connie Blanco she is entwined in a gang war and somehow connected to a murder. The corpse is barely cold before a second murder follows and Hannibal finds himself entangled in a complex plot revolving around stolen drugs. To keep himself and Connie alive he needs to figure out who the mastermind of this twisted scheme really is.

What inspired you to write this book?
I like mysteries that don’t start with a murder and I became interested in the growing gang problem in suburban Virginia and Maryland. Then I stumbled upon a unique way to murder someone and the story fell together.

As you can see in this excerpt from The Wrong Kind, finding a missing person doesn’t always work out well for our hero:

            if you take my advice you’ll go back up to Charles County and look in on your mama. It might not matter to you but it will make her feel a lot better.” He stood, leaned forward and offered a hand to help her to her feet.
            And then the lights went out.
            Hannibal spun in the sudden darkness, one hand snatching his Oakleys off his face while the other darted under his suit jacket reaching for his weapon. Before his fingers could manage to grip the gun his head exploded with pain.
            The impact staggered him. The left rear corner of his head. With luck that might be enough of a clue. He whipped his left fist around and back. He hit nothing but air. Then an arm wrapped around his neck. Another arm went under his right arm and he felt the hand at the back of his head. He knew the hold, not a choke in the classic sense, but what television wrestlers called a sleeper hold, cutting off the blood flow in both his carotid artery and jugular vein. He could breathe fine but with no blood going to his brain it didn’t matter. He felt a deeper darkness moving in and his balance deserted him. The arms suddenly came away. Something crashed into his knees. Most likely the floor. His arms were unresponsive, and it felt like he was falling forward. He took a deep breath because he knew the next part was really going to hurt.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My Work In Progress is about a DC-based, African American female assassin named Skye. She has accepted a contract on a mob boss.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I had written three novels by 1999 and submitted them to several agents and publishers. At that point I decided to self publish to see if anyone really wanted to read my stories. The day the first book was purchased by a reader I finally saw 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’ve retired from my career as a Defense Department communications specialist. I’m still an early riser because my wife continues to work outside the home. I generally drive her to the Metro to take a train into Washington DC, then come home, fill a mug with coffee, and write for a couple of hours. It’s important that I work every day but as part owner of a publishing company I also spend time during the day editing other people’s work, and doing marketing work, especially social media. Still, I manage to lay down a couple thousand words of my own novels in the morning, five days a week.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
It may be that I need to picture everything that happens in my stories before I can write it. This often means standing up and going thru the motions of a fight scene to see how it would really work. I know my wife is always amused to see me fighting invisible enemies like a violent mime.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At first I wanted to be a detective like Batman in the comics I grew up on. By high school that had switched to journalism which I eventually found my way into during my Army time.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope people who read my Hannibal Jones novels can see that the books are about more than solving a crime. Each has a social theme, and the series overall is about the rising and advancing of one man’s spirit. I think Hannibal’s personal growth, what he learns from each case, makes this series different from most others.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

New interview with writer/memoirist Barbara Barth

Writer Barbara Barth is back on Reviews and Interviews. Today we’re chatting about her memoir, The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

Author, blogger, sometimes antique dealer, dog hoarder, bedazzled by life. Widowed eleven years ago, Barbara writes about finding a creative path back to happiness. Her recent move to a 1906 historic cottage brought many surprises, including discovering the Monroe–Walton Center for the Arts where she started the monthly Walton Writers group and is on the MWCA Board as Literary Arts Chair. Barth is a contributor to Walton Living Magazine and a former blogger for The Balancing Act, Lifetime Television’s morning show for women. Currently she lives with six dogs, rescue dogs that rescued her.

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Barbara! Please tell us about your newest release.
Picking up where The Unfaithful Widow ended, Ten Years Later continues the author’s journey from widow to a slightly askew woman. A memoir written with warmth and candor on being single again, aging, and finding a creative path surrounded by dogs, friends, laughter, and a bit of craziness. Barbara Barth shares stories on the adventures that followed her first year alone as she moved headfirst into a new life, listening to her heart, sometimes not so wisely, but always full speed ahead. Join her on the ride of her life, from owning an antique shop to moving to a Victorian cottage outside of Atlanta, and all the follies in between. Going into the next decade with six dogs by her side, the author proves you are only as old as you feel, and happiness begins with a grateful heart. A funny and engaging memoir for anyone who wants to be their own superhero facing life’s good and bad moments.

What inspired you to write this book?
This is a follow up to The Unfaithful Widow (published 2010), my memoir on my first year alone. I turned 60 three months after losing my husband in 2008. Time flies when you are recreating yourself in crazy ways and suddenly ten years had passed, and I was looking 70 in the face. It seemed the perfect time to continue my story. I pulled together blog posts over the years and refreshed them also adding more recent stories to my memoir. I wanted closure on my sixties and jump start my new decade. As a single woman living alone with a six-pack of dogs my upcoming birthday made me rethink what’s next going forward with my writing and art, dogs, and life. I don’t have children and I don’t have any family responsibilities, other than my fur babies. Aging presents challenges even for those in the best of health, I’d had a few setbacks with hip surgeries, but still moved forward. I hope my escapades will resonate with any age that it is good to follow your heart to make your dreams come true. Some of my adventures might be labeled misadventures, but I wouldn’t have changed anything over the years. Magic can happen or you learn more about yourself. Either way I call it a win-win.

What’s the next writing project?
I think I’m over writing about me! The last few years I’ve started several novels and want to get back to finishing one of them. My holy trinity of writing subjects; widows, dogs, houses. I like to write about women recreating themselves later in life (what I know best). I also have a children’s book about losing my dog Annabelle to illness in her old age that I want to publish once I work out the illustrations. My head is full of ideas and themes, and maybe now that I’ve finished with this latest memoir, I can move on and have fun with fictional characters.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
The biggest challenge for this memoir was getting everything in the correct order. The stories cover the launch of The Unfaithful Widow in 2010 to my 70th birthday in 2018. While I pulled many posts from my blogs, I have lots of blogs and the stories written from different angles, so figuring out what stayed and what got tossed was distracting. The memoir is broken down by years. Some of the years are what I call magical doing (with my antique shops) and other years more reflections on life, dogs, gardens, renovations. Reliving my life in words again, some feelings and memoires forgotten, all came rushing back to me as I worked over the year to finalize my story. It was a crazy wonderful period filled with love and loss, as is every life. Then to finish off the book I got carried away writing dog Haiku, inspired by a friend who writes beautiful poetry. Always a dog person I try to sneak them in everything I do.

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 work at my desktop computer that sits on an old painted farm table (old paint, not new. I’m an old paint freak with my antiques). I’ve tried to write on a laptop, and it doesn’t work for me. My office is my sunroom, so lots of light comes in the windows. My walls are full of vintage oil paintings of farm scenes, portraits, all original by someone else, all old. In March 2017 I moved from my forties ranch house to a small town forty miles east of Atlanta as the crow flies to my 1906 historic cottage so my room at the back of the house is cozy with arched windows and a fireplace that I don’t use other than for decorative purposes. I don’t want to burn my house down and I’ve never figured out how to start a fire on my own. Bertha, my 75-pound Basset mix snores on the loveseat behind me and the little dogs are usually on my bed curled up in a quilt, appearing only to go out or to eat. It is a lovely space to write and dream.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I don’t really have a list of special authors, I find books that speak to me, and the writers vary. One that comes to mind is Abigail Thomas. I found her memoir A Three Dog Life shortly after losing my husband and loved her story and writing style. I devoured all her memoirs after that. A writer long gone, May Sarton, was a favorite when I was younger. I’ve started reading her books again. While she wrote fiction and poetry, her journals over the years are stunning, capturing my soul with her words on solitude, beauty, Maine, aging, illness. I collect vintage children’s books and antique gardening books. My adult reading taste goes more to quirky, with memoirs on chickens, farms, renovating houses, all the things that fill my dreams. As much as I love dogs, I don’t read dog memoirs. Go figure.  

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
I encourage everyone to write. Keep a journal, try poetry, write a short story. I’ve started several writing groups and love to read the stories folks share. I’m all about getting words on paper. When I talk to someone, somewhere in that conversation I’ll pop out with, “There’s a story there. Write it.” Our stories share our lives with others, for now and for future generations. They don’t have to be perfect; they just have to be written down. It’s a healing process when needed and a wonderful way to capture what is in the imagination.


Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!

Feel free to visit Barbara’s other tour stops, too!

--- Blog Tour Dates
November 11th @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Barbara Barth's new book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

November 12th @ All Things Audry
Author Barbara Barth is a guest writer over at Audry's blog today and will be talking about women friendships.

November 13th @ Words from the Heart
Stop by Linda's blog and you can read a guest post by Barbara Barth about publishing anthologies.

November 14th @ Thoughts in Progress
Visit Mason's blog today and you can read Barbara's guest post about starting a writing group. Don't miss it!

November 15th @ The World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog and read her review of Barbara Barth's book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

November 16th @ Lori Duff Writes
Stop by Lori's blog today where you can read her interview with Barbara Barth and read her review of Barbara's book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

November 16th @ Jill Sheets Blog
Visit Jill's blog today and you can read Barbara Barth's guest post about self-publishing.

November 17th @ A Storybook World
Be sure to stop by Deirdra's blog today and check out her spotlight of the book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later and enter to win a copy of the book!

November 18th @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Be sure you visit Bev's blog and read Barbara Barth's guest post about starting over at 70. You won't want to miss this!

November 19th @ Look to the Western Sky
Be sure to visit Margo's blog and read her interview with author Barbara Barth. Don't miss it!

November 20th @ Anthony Avina's Blog
Make sure you visit Anthony's blog today and read Barbara Barth's guest post about publishing anthologies.

November 21st @ Cassandra's Writing World
Stop by Cassandra's blog today and read her review of The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. You can also enter to win a copy of the book as well!

November 22nd @ Karen Brown Tyson's Blog
Join us at Karen Brown Tyson's blog where you can read a guest post about self-publishing by author Barbara Barth. Don't miss it!

November 23rd @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Visit Bev's blog again and you can read her review of Barbara Barth's book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

November 24th @ Choices
Be sure to stop by Madeline's blog and read Barbara Barth's guest post that will be talking about women friendships.

November 25th @ Wild Woman Writer
Visit Anne's blog today and you can read Barbara Barth's blog guest post about starting over at 70.

November 26th @ Life Like A Galaxy Girl
Stop by Alanna's blog today and you can read her review of Barbara Barth's memoir The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

November 27th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Visit Lisa's blog today and you can read her interview with author Barbara Barth and find out more about this incredible author!

November 28th @ Bibliotica
Stop by Melissa's blog and make sure you read Barbara Barth's guest post about grief over the years and finding happiness again.

November 29th @ Stranded in Chaos
Visit Sara's blog and you can read her review of Barbara Barth's book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

November 30th @ Anthony Avina's Blog
Visit Anthony's blog again and read his review of Barbara Barth's book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

December 1st @ Words from the Heart
Visit Linda's blog and read her review of Barbara Barth's book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. 

December 2nd @ Women's Writing Circle
Stop by the blog Women's Writing Circle and you can read a guest post by Barbara Barth about adopting dogs while all her friends are having grandkids. Don't miss this one!

Monday, November 25, 2019

New interview with writer Dave Tomlinson

Writer Dave Tomlinson is back in the hot seat. Today he’s chatting with me about his non-fiction sport’s book, Days of Miracle and Wonder.

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Dave. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Dave Tomlinson. I’m from New Zealand and now living in Brisbane, Australia. My life passions are travel, outdoor adventure, sport and writing. After writing the budget travel guide Travel Unravelled I then documented my travel stories in Around the World in 80 Tales (my interview on this blog about this book is here). I blog about my travel and assist other travellers on my Step Ahead Travel website. It’s my dream to eventually travel 100 countries and go to every continent on the planet.

My first sports book Days of Miracle and Wonder describes 25 of the most incredible sporting victories brought about by amazing comebacks and painful chokes. This was followed by ‘Unlevel Playing Fields’ which tells the dramatic stories behind 25 of the greatest sporting controversies. The latest publication in this fascinating series ‘Excellence in Motion’ relates the courage, respect and sacrifice displayed in 25 of the finest acts of sportsmanship.

Please tell us a little more about your newest release.
The thrill of victory, agony of defeat and human drama of competition are the fundamental allure of sport. Its glorious unpredictability is truly captivating and nothing captures our imagination more than a contest which suddenly comes alive after the result appeared to be a foregone conclusion. Whether it's the anguish of a choke or the brilliance of a comeback, Days of Miracle and Wonder captures these moments and tells the unique stories behind 25 of the most incredible sporting victories.

What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for writing this book came from Steven Bradbury's gold medal in short track speed skating at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. His astonishing story resonated with me because it captures the glorious unpredictability of sport. I love an exciting comeback or underdog victory as much as anyone! And as I pondered Bradbury’s remarkable achievement, I began to think about other implausible victories across the sporting spectrum.

My mind flashed back to watching Jana Novotna lose the 1993 Wimbledon final to Steffi Graf. Six years later, I will never forget the dark shadow cast across New Zealand when the All Blacks lost their World Cup semi-final to the unfancied French side. The same year, South Africa snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Australia in the 1999 cricket World Cup semi-final. In yet another heartbreaking disappointment, the Kiwis lost the 2013 America's Cup to Team USA after being on the brink of victory, time and again.

Brazilian soccer legend Pelé once said "The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning." The glory of winning and the ignominy of losing against the odds have given us many unforgettable sporting moments. Over the years we’ve seen courage and brilliance, but also honest displays of human frailties. It’s my hope that I’ve captured the passion and emotion of each occasion rather than just the results.

What’s the next writing project?
After completing Unlevel Playing Fields and Excellence in Motion, I watched in admiration as Tiger Woods came back from the depth of personal transgressions and crippling injury to win the 2018 Tour Championship and then the Masters in 2019. Making a career comeback in sport is one of the most difficult things to do with dignity and there is every chance of failure. It became the inspiration for the fourth book in my sporting series.

Legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi is widely recognised as one of the greatest leaders in the history of sport. Among his many famous quotes, he once said: "The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That's real glory. That's the essence of it." He knew what it meant to make a comeback and captured in those words the triumph that sportspeople experience when they've done it successfully. And he had given me my book title.

The Real Glory celebrates the sportspeople who have shown exceptional courage and dedication. They went beyond what was expected of them in a triumph of the human spirit. Nothing is assured in the cut and thrust of professional sport, but to those who are prepared to take the risk, the reward is a unique glory. Sporting legends are not hammered into shape on the anvil of results alone; they come from the way those results were achieved, including the sacrifices made just to be in the contest.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
One of the biggest challenges in writing my books is structuring each chapter. It’s a challenge that I enjoy because I want to tell the story in the best possible way. I want to strike a balance between providing readers with relevant facts and an interesting narrative. This often involves beginning at a certain point, going back in time and then coming forward in time to complete the loop. I also find the final paragraph or two a good challenge. I don’t like to finish anything abruptly and leave an unpolished surface. I think concluding something well is an important aspect of any writing.

If your books 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?
Good question. I tend to do most of my research before I begin writing. By doing that, it helps me plan how I’ll write the chapter. I have a Word document called ‘Notes’ which is like a scribble pad. It enables me to jot down important points and ‘landmarks’ that I need to pass. I often find however, that as I get into my writing, further research is required. I’ve spent many hours using Google to find relevant websites from which to extract the information I need. More notes are added until the gaps are sufficiently filled and I can complete what I’m doing.

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 find the atmosphere at the public library the most conducive to good writing. It’s a relaxed space with good lighting and being surrounded by other people working, reading and studying is an incentive for me to concentrate well. I’ve done some writing at home but I tend to get distracted more easily. Wherever I am though, I find coffee always helps with creativity and focus!

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I enjoy reading sporting biographies and my favourite fiction authors are Dan Brown, Lee Child and J.D. Robb.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
A book is a gift you can open again and again. Enjoy your reading!

Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!