Friday, October 18, 2019

Interview with romance author Melody DeBlois

Today’s author spotlight shines on Melody DeBlois. She’s here to chat about her new contemporary romance, That April in Santa Monica, releasing on Oct 23rd.

During her virtual book tour, Melody 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!

Born in California, award winning author, Melody DeBlois follows the sun. When she isn’t swimming laps, she’s writing sweet and sassy romances. Her heroines are self-reliant and smart and her heroes are kind by nature and love dogs. She lives in California during the summer and spends winters in Arizona with her husband. She has plotted her novels while hiking the beach or trekking across the desert. Her most treasured possession is family.

Welcome, Melody. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Madison receives acclaim for running a talent agency for people with disabilities, but she doesn't know how to take care of herself. When her altruism becomes life-threatening—a matter of either develop healthy habits or die—she joins a reality TV show that pairs her with hot, raven-haired Brandon. He is witty, sexy, and her teacher. That makes him off limits.
After a successful run on a soap opera, Brandon stepped away from empty fame and now focuses on his work as TV's most noted health teacher. He has one fast rule—never fall for a student. But when he meets Madison, their chemistry is combustible. There's no hiding their conflict or their attraction, especially when it's all caught on film.

The book won a first-place award for Contemporary Romance at the 2017 Diamonds in the Desert Writer’s Conference. It had a different title: I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was watching a health coach on reality TV and wondered what would happen if he fell in love with a student.

Excerpt from That April in Santa Monica:
“Don’t you feel the sun’s energy balancing and healing you?”
What Madison felt was Brandon’s body heat radiating through her, tightening her muscles, skimming up her spine. That kind of warmth should come with a warning— exposure might cause side effects. Maybe she could have blamed it on chemistry or like attracting like— called it a lethal injection. She was dying for want of him.
She managed to say, “I see a halo around the sun.”
“Feel it vibrate?” he asked, turning to look at her, and his eyes turned molten-blue.
Somehow, she didn’t think watching the sky had anything to do with it. The heat had gathered at the sweet place between her legs— another side effect of her being close to him. If this didn’t end up in a kiss, she didn’t think she’d be able to bear it.
Drawing in a long shaky breath, she said, “I do feel the vibration.” Oh, did she!
“Being out in the middle of nature, with the birds and the sea creatures, it does something to a person, don’t you think?”
“Amen to Mother Earth,” she said dreamily.
“There’s harmony in the sounds.” His breath seemed to have caught in his throat.
“Yes, a more beautiful melody could not exist.”
“Do you feel your eyes blur? It’s the sun cleansing you.”
Cleansing? Try heating up as if some crazy so-and-so had switched on the gas.
She moaned, “My eyes have become pools of marvel.” No, that wasn’t right. They were pools of longing, no mistaking

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently writing Undercover in Venice Beach; Book 2 in the Love is a Beach Series.

Struggling small business owner Audrey Powell has just lost her mother. In secret, she’s returned to Venice Beach to take over the tea house her mother made so special. She’s determined to keep Mama’s spirit of helping others alive. But she has no one to help her run things—until enter Liam James, the hunky poet who works miracles with food.

Liam James is a spy with British Intelligence. He sets up surveillance in the tea house where secrets are being leaked that threaten national security. To fit in with the clientele, he must work under the guise of a bloke who opposes technology. Never has he allowed a woman to get in the way of a mission until he meets Audrey. Trouble is, she isn’t who she claims to be.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
All my life I wrote stories and books, but it wasn’t until my youngest son went off to school that I wrote a book at the dining room table and sent it off to Bantam. It was rejected, but the note was so very kind I felt encouraged. I haven’t stopped writing ever since.

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 written full-time for three years. I am a slow writer. I begin with a draft of 50,000 words at least, which takes a month, but after that, my method is one of constant revision. While working my way through a book, I loop back to earlier sections to rewrite in order to remain consistent, fluid, and to maintain voice. I’m trying to step up the process. Most writers only take a few months to finish their books. A single chapter can take fifty rewrites before I am satisfied enough to move on. There are times I want to toss the WIP out, but I just keep plugging along, a turtle in a world of hares, and even when I’m in the last phase of the copy-editing, I find a word here or there I want to change.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I dream a book into existence, in that every night I’m writing in my sleep. And, yes, it gets exhausting at times. Mistakes in the writing pop up in nightmare form, startling me awake. A-ha moments happen around three in the morning—the witching hour.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I vacillated between wanting to be an actress and longing to write. In my early twenties, I wrote plays for the neighborhood children. I directed sometimes as many as sixty children, made the costumes, and choreographed the dances. The strange part was I never had a dance lesson, and even with a name like Melody, I couldn’t sing a note. I was playing, but my playing was profitable. We made lots of money that we donated to local charities. It was a good time in my life. I hadn’t yet been hit by any sort of rejection. I thought I could do anything.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’ve always lived by a quote by Henry David Thoreau:
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.


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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Interview with author Evi Rhodes

Today’s welcome goes out to novelist Evi Rhodes who is with me to chat about her new paranormal romance, Wicked Night, book 1 in A Warrior’s Promise Series.

During her virtual book tour, Evi will be awarding a $20 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!

Evi Rhodes has always had a passion for writing and likes to spend as much time as possible hanging out with the array of rescue animals on her farm in Ontario, sipping on a cup of coffee and typing on her laptop.

In addition to getting her degree in business as well as competing in her favourite equestrian sport, dressage, she is an entrepreneur, and has coached many of a riding enthusiast, but she has always found herself coming back to wanting to write full-time.

“I just want to be me and to be authentic. To tell a story that others can immerse themselves in and enjoy is what I have always wanted.”

Welcome, Evie. Please tell us a little bit about Wicked Night.
Follow the journey of a strong, independent, yet caring woman as she navigates the supernatural world she is thrust into. Gwen steps out of a dysfunctional family life and into a world filled with danger she never realized lives at every turn, fiery passion, and a love that is ever binding. How will she handle her strange new surroundings as well as the man with the intense and overbearing personality who threatens to destroy the emotional barriers around her heart?

Wicked, the next in line to become the vampire king, is caught off guard when he grudgingly agrees to take on a charge, something he never wanted to do. He is unsure how to handle the fierce and vibrant woman with the unsettling green eyes. It doesn't take long for them to clash, but will it end passionately or burn down around them?

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always loved to write and had jotted down notes for this novel long ago. I really wanted to write a story that pulled the reader in and gave them characters they could root for as well as had a little of everything that I love in a novel. I also like to touch on serious topics and people’s stories that I felt were worthwhile in sharing in part or whole. I am truly inspired by the world around us as well as picturing what the world would be like if those from the paranormal walked among us out in the open.

Excerpt from Wicked Night:
He slowly turned around and there she was, the one thing in his life that made him smile, and he pulled her forward so she could stand between his legs. She hugged him tightly to her as he held on to her small body.
“I love you,” she said over and over again into the side of his neck as she ran little kisses up and down his skin.
            His big body started to shake and he gave in and did something he hadn’t done in a very long time: he cried. He was hanging on to her for dear life as the sobs racked his body and still she just kept repeating how much she loved him, and she was there for him. As small as she was, physically, in comparison to him, in this moment she was the strong one; she was his rock. He needed her, he needed to wipe away what happened tonight; he needed to bury himself into her warmth and have her wash away the darkness with the strength of who she was and who they were to each other.
            He looked up into her eyes and he saw only love. There was no pity. There was no sadness or disgust at how weak he was being, there was only love for him and a strength of character that spoke of her virtuous nature. He took her face in his hands and crushed his lips to hers and she moaned in response, allowing him to completely dominate her as he ran his hands up her body and explored her mouth with his tongue. He broke away from the kiss only long enough to make sure the door was locked.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The second book in the series, Unusual Night, is already published but I am currently working on book three, Orion’s Night which is almost complete. It is a deeper look into Orion and his life; he is and interesting character in the continuing story of Gwen and her journey. Although this book will predominantly be about Orion it will also give us an outside perspective into Gwen’s life and the ongoing turmoil around the mansion. A different and unique way to view our heroine and those that surround her.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m honestly still in shock that my work is in print, maybe when the surreal wears off I will feel like I’m a writer.

Do you write full-time?
No, unfortunately, I don’t write full time, but would love to. I actually own my own small business, as well as I’m currently working in an office as an administrative assistant. I tend to write late into the evening and on weekends for the most part. It is hard juggling everything, but I make sure that I sit down at the computer every day for at least a half-hour even if it is just to look over something that I have already written. I feel that it’s important to stay active with my work even when I’m crazy busy; not only does it keep me in touch with my characters, but many times it is what calms my mind and allows me to unwind.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure if this is quirky, but I cannot write a single page unless I have a coffee in hand and my writing table set-up the exact same way every time. I also love to listen to music when I write and whenever I have a fight scene or a romantic scene etc… there are certain songs I absolutely must listen to, they just get the right creative juices flowing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a small child I had two dreams the first was to become a veterinarian because I absolutely love animals and wanted to be able to help them all; unfortunately my scientific academic acumen was not where it needed to be for this particular dream. The second was to become an Olympian in the equestrian sport I ride in. Not once did I dream that one day I would become a writer, in fact as a child I had enormous trouble learning to read and write. I was held back in class after testing proved I was comprehending at a level at least two grades behind my classmates. I was diagnosed as dyslexic and proven to have a short-term memory issue. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the persistence of my parents to make sure that I got caught up by sitting and studying with me every night to learn how to properly read, write, and spell, I’m not sure I would’ve ever found my love for writing.

I was asked the other day if I thought my time riding and competing with horses had taught me any life lessons.

I can say without a doubt that, yes, they most certainly did. Not only did the horses teach me about responsibility, but they taught me respect, how to listen and speak without using words as well as how to put another’s needs before my own. When you get into horses the very first thing you learn is that you don’t eat until your horse does, you don’t drink until your horse does, you don’t rest until your horse has been brushed, their stall has been cleaned and your tack has been put away. They are your number one focus and what they need comes above everything else. Also I have to say horses are a great judge of character, best way to know if you have a good girlfriend or boyfriend is to bring them around your horse, they will tell you quick enough if you should say adios. My stallion always put a boyfriend through the acceptance test more thoroughly than any parent, friend or sibling would and the only one that truly passed, I’m now married to.


Thanks for joining me today! All the best with your writing.

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Interview with YA paranormal author Christine Potter

Welcome, readers. Today’s guest is novelist Christine Potter. We’re chatting about her newest YA paranormal romance novel with a dash of time travel, Gracie’s Time.

During her virtual book tour, Christine will be awarding a $30 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!

Christine Potter lives in a very old, haunted house, not far from Sleepy Hollow. She’s the author of the time-traveling Bean Books series, on Evernight Teen: Time Runs Away With Her, In Her Own Time, What Time Is It There? and Gracie’s Time. She’s also a poet, with several books in print (the most recent is called Unforgetting). Christine loves all kinds of music, DJ’s, and plays dulcimer and guitar.

Welcome, Christine. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Gracie's Time is Bean Four, the fourth book in the Bean series. Gracie Ingraham is a high school sophomore during the Cuban Missile Crisis and her parents believe the world is on the edge of nuclear war. Fortunately, they have something planned to keep their daughter safe. The Ingrahams are Travelers—time travelers--and Gracie shares their gift. So they decide to send Grace to the 1890s and a wealthy uncle in Victorian-era Manhattan. Problem is, she's never traveled in time before. She goes forward instead of back—and lands in 2018. Gracie has gone from transistor radios to iPhones, from duck-and-cover drills to active shooter drills. Because this is indeed a Bean book, characters from the original series have good-sized roles—but maybe not how you'd think. Gracie's Time makes a perfectly good stand-alone read, by the way, but I bet you'll want to read the first three books when you've finished this one!

What inspired you to write this book?
I was originally thinking of a story separate from the Bean characters, maybe one that would be short story length for an anthology. I wanted to write it in first person, from Gracie's point of view. And then, not so many words into my first draft, the Parkland shooting happened. I already had Gracie in 2018 by then. I knew I had to deal with the threat of gun violence in schools. So I did.

Excerpt from Gracie’s Time:
I heard a snoring sound in the sky then, but it was only a plane. For a moment I thought about how terrible it would be if a nuclear war started right that minute, before I could escape to the past. Then I thought about Mom and Dad. I hoped they’d come get me from the 1890s if there weren’t a war. I didn’t want them to die. I didn’t want anyone to die. I really wanted there to be a future.
Mr. Mahoney and I walked past the train station and out onto the empty platform. He looked over his shoulder to be sure no one was around. “Are you ready?” He took my hands, squeezed them, and then he let go. “It’s the right time and place! Go on back, Gracie!”
At first, I thought nothing had happened, except then it wasn’t evening anymore. It was morning—and certainly not the 1890s. Nobody named Augustus introduced himself to me.
Dad always told me that if you get confused when you Travel, you should always look at what kind of lights there are in buildings and what clothing people have on to help place yourself. But what I saw only confused me more.
A freezing wind came off the river and cut right through my corduroy jacket. People in puffy grey and brown overcoats stood in clumps, staring at what I first thought were really tiny transistor radios. I learned that same day those things are called smart phones. I’d missed the 1890s by over a hundred years—and in the wrong direction.
A sleek, silvery train roared into the station from the north and everyone got on it but me. Bingo, the future! I’d just broken one of the biggest Rules there is.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I also write poetry, and I've been busy submitting a lot of new work. I'm trying to decide what's next for Gracie. There's a real ending on this story, but there are plenty of places my new (and old) characters could go next.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I can't remember a time in my life when I couldn't read—I taught myself before kindergarten—and so I can't really remember a time when I wasn't making up stories and poems. I actually wrote some (bad) time travel stories and ghost stories when I was in junior high. I think I started calling myself a writer confidently when the first book in the Bean series came out a few years ago, even though I had published a whole lot of poetry by then. Somehow or other having a novel in print gave me the right to own the word.

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'm a retired high school English teacher. I guess that's why I never had fiction in print until I got out of the classroom: not enough hours in the day. I write every day now, either poetry or fiction. I get up, read the news, update my social media, and head for my office. I take an exercise break midday and then go back to writing until my musician husband gets home from practicing. He's a church organist, so he does an awful lot of that outside the house. He has a practice organ at home that is NOT a friend of my writing!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love both pop and classical music. All of my books have a lot of music in them—and characters who are musicians and DJs. Bean Four, Gracie's Time, has everything from "Over the Rainbow" to the soundtrack to Hamilton.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer pretty early on. I had a brief flirtation with wanting to be an archeologist, but then I realized I'd probably be excavating graves and that freaked me out.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I am the world's oldest young adult. As a retired teacher, I believe you become the age of the kids you teach. I taught high schoolers. A large part of me has been sixteen years old—for decades!

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Friday, October 11, 2019

Interview with mystery author Robert McCaw

Welcome, readers. Today’s special author interview is with Robert McCaw. We’re chatting about his new mystery, Off the Grid.

Robert McCaw grew up in a military family traveling the world. After graduating from Georgetown University, he served as a lieutenant in the US Army before earning his law degree from the University of Virginia. Thereafter he practiced as a partner in a major international law firm in Washington, DC, and New York City—and maintained a home on the Big Island of Hawai’i. McCaw brings a unique authenticity to his Koa Kāne Hawaiian mystery novels in both his law legal expertise and his ability to portray the richness of Hawai’i’s history, culture, and people. McCaw lives in New York City and La Jolla, California, with his wife, Calli.

Welcome, Robert. Please tell us about your current release.
Off The Grid is a mystery/political thriller set on the Big Island of Hawaii—the real Hawaii, beyond the palm trees, hula skirts, and tropical drinks of tourist Hawaii. In many ways, Hawaii itself, its history, multicultural diversity, and language is a character in the novel.

My protagonist, Koa Kāne, is the chief detective of the Hilo, Hawaii police. He’s a cop with a secret past, one that gives him an insight into the criminal mind, while fueling his relentless pursuit of justice for victims. In Off The Grid, Koa’s day starts when he’s called to the scene of a staged traffic accident and escalates when a body turns up in a lava field. It doesn’t take Koa long to discover that the victims are loners living under false identities off the grid in rural Hawaii. His quest to learn their identities creates conflicts with powerful government agencies and ultimately his own police chief. The trail leads to one of the most bizarre, real-life, international events of the recent past and to a surprise ending.

What inspired you to write this book?
Hawaii inspired me to write the Koa Kāne mystery series, starting with Death of a Messenger in 2015, followed by Off The Grid in 2019, and Fire and Vengeance, to be published next year. I first visited the Big Island in 1986 and fell in love with its magic. Living there part-time for 20 years, I immersed myself in its history and culture, talked story with local friends, both haole (western) and Hawaiian, and visited most of the places where my stories take place.

Two unrelated experiences inspired significant parts of Off The Grid. My wife and I went to the home of a Big Island artist we had commissioned for a Hawaiian themed painting. After a number of twists and turns in a remote part of the island, we arrived at an isolated dwelling deep in the rain forest. Largely off the grid, it was filled with mismatched objects, artist’s supplies, and half-finished paintings. As I entered and scanned the great room, I knew I’d discovered a ready-made template for a scene in a novel. The fact that the artist’s retired husband seemed to have some clandestine military history only added intriguing mystery possibilities.

Not too much later, my wife and I drove up the somewhat more developed Kohala Coast to the picturesque town of Hāwī to dine at one of our favorite casual restaurants, only to find the place closed. We learned that the proprietor had been arrested as a fugitive from justice. A little research revealed that he was far from the only wanted man hiding out on the Big Island.

And so pieces of Off The Grid came together.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Fire and Vengeance, another unique and exciting Koa Kāne mystery, is coming next year. It begins when a volcano erupts under an elementary school, and Koa learns that the builders knew of, and concealed, the risk. The ensuing investigation leads Koa into one of the most challenging investigations of his career as he fights entrenched politicians to discover a shocking and long-buried truth.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Given my former career as an attorney, it seems as though I have been writing most of my life. I first turned to serious fiction when I started Death of a Messenger in the late 1980s while I was still pursuing a full-time legal career. I worked on that novel off and on until I retired and finally finished it. So if “writer” means producing books for publication, you could say I’ve been “becoming” a writer for a long time.

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 regularly, but my days encompass many other activities, including time with family and friends, travel, exercise, reading, cooking, and even a video game or two, but little or no TV. That said, I try to spend some time every day working on my latest writing project. That might entail sitting down at the computer, researching, or just thinking and planning the next chapter or scene. I agree with authors who say that successful writers are voracious readers and believe that life is in many ways the best research for writing fiction. Thus, I am always on the prowl for locations, situations, or characters that might fit with my current project or inspire parts of the next one.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I avoid the word “very,” and think of my father every time that word crosses my mind. He told me that whenever I use the word “very,” I should change it to “damned,” – as in damned pretty -- and then delete it!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The list is endless. My grandfather worked on a railroad, and I grew up with model trains. So I wanted to be an engineer. My father was a military lawyer, so I wanted to be a soldier, but not a lawyer. That only came later. We always had tools and a workshop, and I tried my hand at cabinetry. I loved numbers and wanted to be a mathematician until I figured out that math would likely be a pretty solitary profession. Always fascinated by the stars, I seriously considered being an astronomer. At one point, I even wanted to be a professional ping-pong player.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The luckiest people are not, as commonly believed, the wealthiest. They are instead those blessed with the power to make a life doing what they love. So go for it.

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