Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Interview with novelist Michael Jordan

Author Michael Jordan joins me today. We’re chatting about his newest thriller novel, The Company of Demons.

During his virtual book tour, Michael will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Nobel (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!

Michael Jordan obtained his undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University, with highest honors, and his law degree from George Washington University, where he was a member of the Law Review. A trial lawyer and arbitrator for over three decades, he has been recognized as an Ohio Super Lawyer and named to Best Lawyers in America. A member of the International Association of Crime Writers, The Company of Demons is his first novel.

An avid traveler, Michael has climbed Mt. Fuji, swam in The Devil’s Pool on the cusp of Victoria Falls, trekked a glacier in Patagonia, and visited numerous other countries. Yes—an international thriller lies in the future! He has also acted in several theatrical productions and his experience on stage is helpful in creating characters for his novels. He is currently working on his next book, a thriller set during the closing stages of WWII.

A native of Saginaw, Michigan, Michael and his wife, Linda Gross Brown, a soft pastel artist, divide their time between homes in Rocky River, Ohio, and Longboat Key, Florida. They enjoy traveling, pleasure boating, and very cold martinis.

Welcome, Michael. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Years ago, the notorious Torso Killer brutally murdered at least twelve people and then disappeared without a trace, eluding even the legendary Eliot Ness. My book draws on this fascinating bit of Cleveland history to ask the question: what if the killer returned today for one final act of vengeance?

What inspired you to write this book?
I found the story absolutely compelling—brutal murders, a frustrated Eliot Ness, and the complete disappearance of the murderer.

Excerpt from The Company of Demons: 
A deep breath helped to calm me. Oyster’s death had brought an ugly past alive. Just as I’d been assuring everyone, though, there was nothing wrong. My main task for the day was to pick Molly up after school and hope that she wouldn’t be too disappointed when she learned that we wouldn’t be visiting the skateboard park. We would head straight home for a quiet, uneventful spaghetti dinner. Cathy would have polished and set the oaken table. We would talk of things other than serial killers. She would remind me of her upcoming birthday dinner, with her sister and brother-in-law. Her parents would stare down at us from faded color photographs arranged in thin wooden frames on checkered blue-and-white wallpaper. There were photographs of my mom, too, with her tight-lipped smile.

One photo of my father, handsome in a blue uniform, hung on the wall. Whenever Cathy said grace, my eyes would wander to the particular picture, and I would recall games of catch, walleye fishing on the lake, our hikes through the Metroparks. We’d wander the trails there most Saturday mornings, just my dad and me. Afterward, he’d take me to Pete’s Hotdogs on Lorain, and we’d gorge on dogs stuffed into steamed buns and topped with local Stadium mustard and greasy fried onions. Those were the memories I’d try to focus on.

But I could never, ever block out the rest.

What exciting story are you working on next?
A WWII thriller involving a plot by AXIS agents to derail our atomic bomb program at Los Alamos, New Mexico

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have always thought of myself that way. I’ve written since I was a kid—poetry, short stories, novellas.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write full time. I practiced law for many years, but now work as an arbitrator. I like to write in blocks of time, so try and set hours aside whenever possible.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Staring blankly out of the window, trying to convince myself that creative thoughts will come.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An archeologist.

Buy links:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Greenleaf Book Group | Books-A-Million | 800CEOREAD

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Interview with short story writer Kevin Scott Olson

Author Kevin Scott Olson is here today to chat with me about his thriller, action-adventure short story, “Paradise.

Kevin Scott Olson is an American the author of thriller, action-adventure works. He is the author of the Amazon best-selling novel Night of the Bonfire and of several short stories, including “Breakout”, “Roseblood”, and his newest, “Paradise”. He is a member of International Thriller Writers.

Please share a little bit about your newest short story, “Paradise”.
Michael Quinn is in harm’s way, having stumbled upon a sinister plot while trying to escape a storm. At 40 pages, this short fast-paced read is sure to have you on the edge of your seat.

On a desolate stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, ex-Navy SEAL Michael Quinn stops at the Paradise Motor Court to escape a raging storm. At the bar, Quinn accidentally meets a treasured mentor from his past, and makes a new friend, an attractive Stanford graduate student. Unexpected events, however, turn the pleasant evening into a violent nightmare, fraught with danger. Countless lives hang in the balance, and only Quinn can prevent the carnage and destruction before daylight breaks

What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
The ability to place the action and intrigue of a full-length novel into the convenient, one-hour reading format of the short story.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
Paradise, the latest, is my favorite. A close runner-up would be Breakout, which received a very large, positive response from readers.

The protagonist in all of the stories is Michael Quinn, a former Navy SEAL who now works as an independent contractor for the CIA. He tends to be given assignments that, for a variety of reasons, must be kept off-the-books. As a consequence, his exploits take him around the world, and far beyond the usual boundaries of the spy thriller story. There is a high level of intrigue and action.

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
Thriller, action-adventure. It has long been my favorite.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The next Michael Quinn short story, Baltic Dance.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
3-4 years ago.

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
I don’t’ do market research.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Once I start writing, it is difficult to stop, until I am done.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The young, fifties Elvis. Or a track athlete, I loved to run.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If any reader would like a complimentary copy of a Michael Quinn short story, we are happy to provide one. Please email us at and my staff will send you one.

Thanks for being here today, Kevin.
Thank you, Lisa!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Interview with YA novelist Krysten Lindsay Hager

Novelist Krysten Lindsay Hager is here today and we’re chatting about her new young adult book, Can Dreams Come True?

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

Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends...Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, and Can Dreams Come True? True Colors won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for children/teens. Competing with the Star is a Readers' Favorite Book Award Finalist.

Krysten's work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on the talk show Living Dayton.

Welcome, Krysten. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Can Dreams Come True is about a high school girl who goes on a music video audition for her favorite singer and not only gets the part, but ends up getting to date him. She has a chance at her dream career and her dream boyfriend and it’s overwhelming! I had fun writing the parts of the story where she obviously knows a lot about Andrew, but has to try and hold back so she doesn’t look like an obsessed fan.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write a book about a girl who really connects with a singer/songwriter and then gets the chance to meet him by being in his video and they begin dating. I wanted to explore it from the aspect of what it would be like to feel like this guy is your musical soulmate and then getting the chance to date him. I admit my own music crushes came into play here!

Excerpt from Can Dreams Come True?
I started to feel anxious after lunch. After all, I had been an Andrew fan for a long time, and even though I had seen him in person, this was a huge deal to get to meet him. What if he wasn’t what I had imagined? I didn’t expect him to fawn over me or anything, but what if he was rude or ignored me? It would kill my fantasy of him as being this sweet, quiet, sensitive songwriter who wore his heart on his sleeve while also being kind of a loner/rebel with just a touch of bad boy in him. Oh man, I would be crushed if he didn’t notice me or worse—if he ended up flirting with Harlow.

In all his magazine interviews Andrew always said looks weren’t important to him, and what he noticed in a girl was if she was true to herself. He said he went for “bright girls who were sweet and easy to be with.” Now that I thought about it, that was the kind of fake crap magazines put out about all the teen celebrities. It was like when I saw Lawrence Claibourne, my favorite actor who claimed to be Mr. I’m-just-looking-for-a-sweet-girl-to-read-poetry-to on a red carpet with a model whose boobs were falling out of her dress and had overdone the lip fillers—I mean, you just knew he wasn’t into her for her personality. But Andrew wasn’t like Lawrence. Andrew seemed so sincere and deep. Lawrence had a smirk and you could tell he was a player, but Andrew seemed like he had been hurt and needed to find the right girl who he could open up to and learn to trust again. . .or at least that’s what he said in his last interview.

The final bell rang and my heart shot up to my throat. This was it. I was on my way to meet my crush. From now on, any dreams of him would be marred by the reality I was about to face.
Was it better to keep wondering what if and keep the fantasy alive or to go and actually meet him?

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the sequel to Can Dreams Come True and also a new adult book.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always knew I wanted to write, but I guess I first started considering myself a writer when I was taking creative writing classes and I knew this was something I would continue doing even if I never got 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?
Writing is my main thing. I used to do journalism and freelancing, but now my main priority is fiction with some non-fiction pieces. I write mostly at night and do the business admin side of the job earlier in the day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I listen to breakup music for hours before writing a sad scene. Once I put a Mariah Carey song on repeat for hours and I thought my husband would lose his mind. I make playlists for each book.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to write for a soap opera! I used to be obsessed with soaps. I think that’s why I like writing series books because I love that episodic nature. I used to come up with my own storylines for the different soaps I watched.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I watched a ton of music documentaries and interviews while writing the Andrew character. I watched stuff on everyone from Ed Sheeran, Elvis, Kurt Cobain, George Michael, Marvin Gaye and more.


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Friday, October 12, 2018

Interview with writer Alretha Thomas

Mystery author Alretha Thomas helps me wrap up the week by chatting about her new novel, The Women on Retford Drive.

Shortly after graduating from USC with a degree in journalism, Alretha soon realized her interest in her major was not heartfelt. Instead of writing news stories, she wanted to write plays and books. Several years later, her church gave her an outlet to fulfill her writing desires through their Liturgical Fine Arts Department wherein Alretha penned twelve theatre piecesthe community response was overwhelming. This led to plays outside of the church, including Alretha’s One Woman, Two Lives, starring Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show), directed by four-time NAACP Image Award Best Director recipient, Denise Dowse. The production garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences.

In between plays, Alretha’s first novel, Daughter Denied, was launched in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country. Representing her book and plays, Alretha has been the guest on many radio shows and television shows including San Francisco Public Affairs show Bay Sunday with Barbara Rodgers on CBS affiliate, KPIX. She was also interviewed by KTLA News Entertainment Reporter, Sam Rubin. In 2011, Alretha launched her second novel, Dancing Her Dreams Away, and it was also well received. Her third novel, Married in the Nick of Nine spawned a four-book series that was acquired by Soul Mate Publishing in January 2014. In August 2014, Alretha was awarded the Jessie Redmon Fauset Literary Award for her indie novel, Four Ladies Only. In 2016, Alretha created the Detective Rachel Storme Mystery Series: Justice for Jessica, Losing Lauren and A Penny for Her Heart. Additionally, in 2016, Alretha returned to acting and is now writing and acting full time. Her theatrical agent is Shawn Brogan of The Brogan Agency. In 2018, Alretha’s Dancing Hills Mystery Series debuted. The Women on Retford Drive is the first book in that series.

Welcome, Alretha. Please tell us about your current release.
Julia Pritchard, an aging sitcom star making a comeback, and her stepdaughter, Blythe Pritchard, an aspiring attorney, form a pact to start fresh and pursue their dreams. But their plans go awry when Keith Pritchard, Julia’s soon-to-be ex-husband and Blythe’s father, goes missing and is presumed dead, the day they plan to move out of his mansion. 

The women are filled with bittersweet emotions when they consider the idea that Keith, a tycoon and functional alcoholic, could be out of their lives for good. Moreover, they fear the police will name them as persons of interest because of the abuse they suffered at Keith’s hands. Julia believes Keith hasn’t met with foul play but orchestrated his own disappearance, hoping the women will be blamed. However, Blythe believes her father is dead. When the police reveal a damning piece of evidence, which could result in one of them being charged with Keith’s possible murder, they join forces to find out what happened to him. Did one of the women go off script and kill Keith, or is another agenda at play, unbeknownst to the women and the police, that’s far more sinister?

What inspired you to write this book?
I write from the inside out. All of my stories form within me. It’s almost like I’m channeling people and situations from other times or dimensions. I know that sounds a little out of the box, but it’s true. A story about a mother and stepdaughter who together fight a common enemy just filled my spirit one day. After I created the characters, the entire story crystalized, and I was able to sit down and create an outline and proceed from there.

Excerpt from The Women on Retford Drive:
Chapter 1                                                                                                                                               Julia
He saw me.
Flashing red-and-blue lights appear in my rearview mirror, and my heart sinks. Oh no, not now. Please don’t pull me over. Please. I need to get home. Why didn’t I stop? I should have stopped. Exasperated with myself and now fully alert, I look ahead for a place to park. The tree-lined street in the small business district is jam-packed with vehicles. I spot a public parking lot and slowly pull in, with the cop riding my bumper. I park in the first available space and he blocks me in.
I pull the visor down to shield myself from the June sun beating down on me through the windshield of my Mercedes, wondering what he’s doing. Sweat dripping down my chest and back, I tug on my blouse that’s glued to me like a second skin, then place my wet hands on the steering wheel, my gaze shifting to the dashboard clock, its numbers screaming at me. I have to meet the movers in thirty minutes. If I miss them, I’ll have no one to blame but myself. My stomach flips when the officer heads my way.
Brawny with a mop of dark hair, he peers down at me and says, “Ma’am, have you been drinking?”
Momentarily stumped, I pause, thinking to myself that it’s barely 10:00 a.m.—too early to drink. “No, I haven’t had anything to drink, I promise.”
“I’ve been following you since you left that nursing home. You were weaving in and out of lanes, and you just blew through a stop sign.”
“I am so sorry, officer. I’ve been up all night with my mother at the nursing home. She has Alzheimer’s. Please forgive me.” I offer him an apologetic smile.
But his eyes are void of sympathy. “I’m going to need your license, registration, and proof of insurance.”
Crestfallen, I gather the documents and hand them to him. He rifles through the paperwork, then pauses. His eyes dart from my face to the license and back again, as if I’m wanted in four states. I swallow hard. What’s wrong? Then he gives me an unexpected smile. “Julia Pritchard … Ah … You played the mother of those triplets on that sitcom. My kids were addicted to that show. You still acting?”
I hold back tears of anxiety. “No, but I’m trying to make a comeback.” The show was canceled a decade ago, but it’s still in syndication. I’m rarely recognized. With an ailing mother, a stalled career, and a life-changing move, the last thing I need is a traffic citation. I pray he feels the same.
A moment later he hands me my papers. “I hope that works out for you. Anyway, get some rest and be careful,” he says, eyeing the bruise on my forehead. “And good luck with your mother.”
A wave of relief washes over me, and I smile wildly. “Thanks so much for understanding, officer. I really, really appreciate this.”
He nods, hops on his motorcycle, and moves from behind my car. I take off—not too fast—full of gratitude, hoping the movers haven’t left. When I visit my mother Sophie at the nursing home, it’s hard to say goodbye. I hate leaving her there because they’re always short-staffed, and they don’t know how to handle her when she has her periodic fits. Now that I’m leaving my soon-to-be ex-husband, Keith, she’ll be able to live with me and my stepdaughter Blythe in our new apartment. The thought alone gives me an adrenaline rush.


What exciting story are you working on next?
It depends on what happens next. Currently, literary agents are reading what is actually the second standalone novel in my Dancing Hills Mystery Series. The Women on Retford Drive is the first book in the series. If that book gets represented and sold, then it will no longer be a part of the Dancing Hills Mystery series. My next project will most likely be writing a second book for my new publisher. After I’ve fulfilled my contractual obligation, I’ll write a book to follow The Women on Retford Drive. While all that’s going on, I have adapted The Women on Retford Drive to stage. Yep, I’ve written the stage play version. I’m looking for a producer. I’d love to see it go up in June 2019.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After my first book Daughter Denied came out in 2008 and strangers were buying my book and posting reviews. That was amazing.

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?
In 2016, I retired from Corporate America. Since that time, I’ve been writing fulltime and it’s amazing. Before I leave the house, I have devotion in my prayer room. It consists of singing, prayer, writing a Dear God letter, and meditation, not necessarily in that order. I start the work day off by checking my email and all my social media websites. I answer all requests and get to work, depending on what tasks are at hand. I may query an agent regarding a current work or edit a work in progress. I’m also acting fulltime, so I may have an audition I have to prepare for. Last month was very busy because I had a huge book launch event, and I coordinated the entire event. So I had to deal with catering, invites, securing the room, casting actors who performed scenes at the event, while at the same time editing and auditioning. I thank God that I was able to get it all done.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have to be very comfortable when I write. Thus, I write in very loose-fitting clothing. Usually my blue sundress my husband bought me or my ripped up blue robe. I guess it’s something about blue. Lol. I also must have my desk fan blasting. I have about a half dozen little stuff animals and toys that I keep to the right of me. I think they’re my good luck charms. I also love listening to music, especially music that fits the mood and tone of what I’m writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My fifth-grade teacher gave the class a short story assignment. I got an idea to write a story about a bag boy in a supermarket who falls in love with a young customer. I guess you could say that was my first romance story. The following day our teacher congratulated the entire class on our work. However, she said there was one story that stood out. And that story was mine. I nearly fell out of my chair. I couldn’t believe it. She read it aloud and the class was riveted. While I was watching the expressions on the faces of my peers, I knew in that moment I wanted to be a writer for life.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking precious time out of your life to read and review my books. It means the world to me.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Interview with writer Joe Albanese

Writer Joe Albanese is in the hot seat today to chat with me about his new crime-comedy, Caina.

Joe Albanese is a writer from South Jersey. His short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry can be found in publications across the United States and in ten other countries. Joe is the author of Caina and Smash and Grab.

Welcome, Joe. Please tell us about your current release.
Caina is a crime comedy about a small-time criminal, who in order to escape debts to multiple gangs, assumes the identity of his successful twin brother, only to find himself involved with the mob, the DEA, and a drone delivery company.

What inspired you to write this book?
A lot of it comes from my relationship with my older brother growing up. We aren’t twins like the characters in the book, but we are only a year apart. So I had teachers a year after him and they'd always accidentally call me by his name. I got tired of correcting them all, so eventually I just started answering to it. He was always more likable than me. He was definitely more attractive, had more friends, was smarter, more social… he was a bit of an asshole too. Our relationship is good now, but growing up I kind of hated him.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I recently got a publishing offer on a novella I wrote. Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with peaks in my anxiety and depression from coming off another medication that did not help, so I turned it down since I’m not in a good enough place mentally to make the book as successful as possible. The money to stress ratio is not worth it right now. It was probably a bad decision because I know how hard it is to find someone who wants to invest in your work, and I was running out of publishers to submit it to, so turning it down burned that final bridge, at least for that story.

About a month ago, I finished the final touches on another crime novel, which is the longest thing I’ve written so far. I submitted it to several publishers, but for the same reason, will probably not be able to accept any offer to publish (should I get one).

If I get another idea for a book I want to write, I probably will. I don’t know if I’ll want to try getting it published, but who knows? Maybe one day.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Either when I got my first story published in a magazine, when I got my first check, or when I started hating more successful writers.

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 used to write full-time. Now it’s more on and off. When I did, I was on that depressing writer’s schedule where I slept all day and wrote all night to avoid distractions. Currently I’m in a re-evaluation stage of life and trying to find a more traditional job to pay the bills. Unless this book really takes off and I become financially secure. Then I can go back to being a full-time writer.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think most writers are really professional procrastinators, so I’m probably not alone in this, but I always do whatever I can to avoid that initial step of sitting down at the computer to write. “How can I write when there are dirty dishes in the sink?” “I think the smell of brownies in the oven would really get the creative juices flowing.” I get so many more chores done when I’m writing than I’m when I’m not.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
In high school I wanted to be a journalist. Then I took a class and hated it. I got my degree in Criminal Justice, which may be why most of my stories have a criminal element to them. I went to college to be a cop, but I lost interest and didn’t like the idea of enforcing laws I disagreed with.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
You can follow me on Twitter @JoeAlba88. I’m not too active and don’t get political, but I share updates and post my poetry that I get published online.


Thanks for being here today, Joe! Happy writing.