Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Interview with western romance author MK McClintock

Here to chat about writing and particularly her debut novel Gallagher's Pride, is western historical romance author MK McClintock.

She's giving away some copies of her novel to lucky commentors. Details are at the end of the interview.

MK was born on the west coast, but after less than eight years she left with her family to the Rocky Mountains. After more adventures around the country, business college, and culinary school, MK found a place to call home in Montana.

"I've always loved books and spent more hours reading through school than any other activity. I wrote stories when I was younger and even tried my hand at a novel. It wasn't very good and I shelved the idea for years." She pulled the ideas off the shelf and began working on her first novel, Gallagher's Pride, the first in an historical series about a ranching family in Montana.

Over the years, MK traveled the country and visited magnificent Scotland. She dreams of a time when life was simpler, the land rougher and the journey more rewarding. With her heart deeply rooted in the past and her mind always on adventure, MK still calls Montana home.

Welcome, MK. Please tell us about your debut release.
Gallagher’s Pride is an historical western romance set in 19th century Montana Territory about a woman who has some drastic changes in her life and journeys to Montana, following a trail to search out secrets and family. She’s taken in by the Gallagher family and most especially our hero, Ethan Gallagher. Without giving anything away, there is of course the romance, but a bit of adventure and a voyage to Scotland.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write what I wanted to read! Living in Montana certainly helped with the idea, but mostly I enjoy reading historical western romances that are clean which are difficult to find. I also wanted adventure and to combine my love of Montana and Scotland into one book.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Currently I’m working on the next Gallagher book, Gallagher’s Choice, where we have the story of Ethan’s brother, Gabriel and a woman from New Orleans. More of the same bit of humor, adventure and romance can be expected.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t believe there was any one moment where I knew I wanted to write-it was more gradual and began from an early age. I’ve been writing in one form or another for as long as I can remember, but actually calling myself a writer? I’d have to say the moment that first book was finished. That’s when it became real.

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 don’t at the moment and probably won’t, but mainly because I always have so much going on. I own a couple of businesses and I enjoy the work too much to just walk away. Finding the time – now that can be tricky. I had to put myself on a schedule and I’m an early morning person, so I tend to put in a couple of hours early after I exercise. If I find I have an extra hour here or there, I just sit down and write. For me, writing should always be fun and so I make sure I balance it out with the other things I enjoy doing. If I miss a day, I don’t beat myself up.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
It’s more of an environmental quirk, but I like the room to be cold. I just seem to write and think better and can more easily ignore everything else around me. I also need a snack – easy to grab like carrots or grapes.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had a pretty active imagination growing up and wanted to be a number of things. From a K-9 cop to a cowgirl/rancher and a lot of things in between, including a chef, a teacher, and a doctor. I eventually went to business and culinary school so I followed through on one of the ideas. I haven’t grown out of the cowgirl/rancher dream though.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I write because I love it and I write for entertainment. It was always a dream somewhere in my mind and the moment I became a writer, when that first book was complete, a dream was fulfilled. Dreaming is a gift and I hope everyone is doing their best every day, working towards their dreams.

Readers can connect with me through my blog.

Very nice way to close this interview. Thanks for being here today, MK. Happy writing trails!

Readers, MK is giving away 3 copies of Gallagher's Pride at the end of her virtual book tour (print copy for US residents only, e-book for international residents), to lucky commentors. So I encourage you to comment here, and on any of MK's other tour stops.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Interview with mystery novelist Kate Flora

Today's interviewee is multi-genre (but mostly mystery) writer Kate Flora. She's mostly talking about the Redemption: A Joe Burgess mystery the 3rd novel in her Portland, Maine-based police procedural series which is releasing in March.

Kate is the guest of honor this Sunday night (March 4) at Writer's Chatroom from 7-9PM EST. Feel free to stop on in and join the conversation. No password or registration needed. Writer's Chatroom is a 5-time winner of Writer's Digest's 101 Best Websites for Writers.

Attorney Kate Flora’s twelve books include seven Thea Kozak mysteries, three gritty police procedurals including The Angel of Knowlton Park, a suspense thriller, Steal Away, written as Katharine Clark, and a true crime, Finding Amy, which was a 2007 Edgar nominee and has been optioned for a movie.

Her current projects include Death Dealer, a true crime involving a Canadian serial killer, co-writing two memoirs, a screenplay, and a novel in linked stories. Flora’s short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including the Sara Paretsky edited collection, Sisters on the Case. She is a former editor and publisher at Level Best Books, former international president of Sisters in Crime, and a founding member of the New England Crime Bake Mystery Conference. Her story, “All that Glitters” appears in Dead Calm, and her story, “Bone China” in the crime story anthology Dead of Winter.

Welcome, Kate. Please tell us about your current release.
Here’s the review from Booklist, which does a pretty good job:

When Detective Sergeant Joe Burgess of the Portland (Maine) Police Department finds his friend Reggie Libby drowned in the harbor, he is determined to bring the killer to justice. Reggie, a Vietnam vet who was mentally ill and had fallen on hard times, had apparently started a new job recently. Joe and his colleagues work to determine his place of employment and his movements before his death by interviewing Reggie’s fellow streetpeople and his relatives, including his vindictive former wife and indifferent son. On the home front, Joe’s live-in girlfriend wants to adopt two foster children, and Joe doesn’t feel ready to be a parent. As always, Joe immerses himself in his case, causing problems in his personal life. Framed by the challenges streetpeople face in large cities, this compelling, fast-paced police procedural offers a complex plot, rich with details of conducting a murder investigation and insight into the rigors of the cop’s life. — Sue O'Brien

What inspired you to write this book?
The first Joe Burgess was inspired by all the time I ended up spending with police officers, doing research for my Thea Kozak mysteries. I wanted to explore the police officers’ reality in more detail. I also wanted to set my new series in Portland, which is a city I’m fond of, as a proud 'Maine-iac'. For this third mystery, I wanted to explore the tension between Burgess’s dedication to detective work and his desire to live a more normal life with his girlfriend, Chris. Ratcheting up that tension was getting Burgess involved in investigating the death of a Vet, and friend, who never recovered from his experiences in Vietnam. The inspiration for the plot came, in part, from wondering what the effect of our poorly planned, unwinnable conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq was on those who had seen, and suffered from, another such war. That led me to the character of Reggie the Can Man. And the title, Redemption, a double play on the ultimate effect of the investigation for Burgess and others, and the fact that the place where cans and bottles are turned in for money is called a redemption center. At the heart of all my books are issues of greed, and lies, and what it is that allows some people to deviate from the social contract we’ve all committed to.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Actually, Lisa, I’m going in about three different directions right now. I’ve just done the final tweaks on a second true crime that I’ve been working on for about five years. Now I will have to sell it—NOT an exciting story. Then, back in the fall, I started working with some incredible people on their memoirs--one individual, and one family—and the stories are so powerful and compelling. One is an international child abduction, the other a 25-year memoir of a retired Maine Game Warden. And as though that weren’t complicated enough…I’m trying to carve out time for a final edit on a suspense novel that needs work. And I just decided to write the eighth Thea Kozak mystery, Death Warmed Over, which I’ve been carrying in the back of my head for about four years.

Overwhelming. Exciting. Wow!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Some time after I finished my third or fourth mystery (I have three still stuck in the drawer) I began to admit that I was hooked. I don’t think I ever put “writer” instead of “lawyer” on a form asking for employment, until I’d published my third book. I always figured that it would suddenly go away. It’s a hard thing to trust. However, in my heart, I knew I was a writer, which is what sustained me through my ten years in the unpublished writer’s corner.

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, sorta. That is, I don’t have a day job. But, like many writers who don’t have a lot of income, I also teach, and do manuscript consults.

Since “discipline” is among my favorite words, coming, somewhat ironically, right after “imagination,” I try to be in my chair with the time-wasters: e-mail, facebook, blog checking, ebay, and Scrabble all done, by 7:30 or 8:00. Then I write until my back starts to hurt, and go do stretches, take a walk, do laundry, run to the P.O. and grocery store, and then back in the chair for another few hours. Another one of my favorite words is “obsession.”

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Golly…what an interesting question, Lisa. I’m not sure that I have one. Perhaps, recently, that I’ve figured out that when I’m stuck in a chapter or a scene, I can grab the sticky bit out of it, start a new file, and just play around, giving my characters their heads to see what they will do. It’s great for getting unstuck, making new discoveries, finding interesting dialogue etc.

Or maybe my quirk involves shoes. When I’m stuck and frustrated, sometimes I go buy shoes. The upside of this is that I only buy second hand, so I can indulge on a writer’s income. The downside is that I own too many shoes. Anyone who wears a size 7 and feels in need of a box of shoes might want to get in touch with me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. Of course.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Always a great, and difficult question. Recently, in the writing world, the question of “branding” floats around a lot. Building a publishing platform, and identifying and protecting and promoting a writer’s particular brand. So recently, I blogged about this, and I’ve been giving it some thought…and I still come down to this: It’s awfully hard to identify a particular brand when I write strong women amateur PI mysteries, police procedurals with male protagonists, short stories, and true crime. And now, it seems, memoir. But what I think I’ve figured out is that all my work, what draws me to the stories that I write, whether fiction, nonfiction, or a collaboration, is the ripple effect. What are the stories of those left behind—the family members, the public safety professionals, etc.

But I don’t really know if that’s a brand. I just know it’s where my interest lies.

Thank you so much for being here Kate. And I look forward to hosting you as a guest this Sunday at Writer's Chatroom where we can expand on this interview and take questions from the audience.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Interview with contemporary novelist David Pereda

Today's interview is with David Pereda who has written a contemporary mainstream novel with a romantic flair, a love triangle, suspense, a pinch of corporate shenanigans and a historical background and published. However Long the Night was published by Eternal Press.

At the end of the interview are details on how to enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card from David.

David Pereda is an award-winning author who enjoys crafting political thrillers and mainstream novels. His books have won the Lighthouse Book Awards twice, the Royal Palm Awards, the National Indie Excellence Awards, and the Readers Favorite Awards. He has traveled extensively around the world and speaks several languages. Before devoting his time solely to writing and teaching college-level courses, Pereda had a rich and successful international consulting career with global giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked with the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, and Qatar, among others.

A member of MENSA, Pereda is the regional director of the Florida Writers Association and the co-founder of AWE (Asheville Writing Enthusiasts). He loves sports and has won many prizes competing in track and show-jumping equestrian events.

David lives with his family in Asheville, North Carolina.

You can visit and connect with him at:

Welcome, David, please tell us about your current release.
However Long the Night is a romantic tale with a major dose of suspense, a tense love triangle, family secrets, corporate shenanigans and a historical background.

The main character is a successful award-winning Miami architect and real estate developer who suddenly finds out that his success has been built on a lie told by his dying father twenty-five years ago that has done serious damage to the lives of people once dear to him. His conundrum is what should he do? So he does the elegant thing to do: he returns to the land he abandoned in search of the woman he left behind and the son he never knew. In the process, he learns a great lesson about love, forgiveness and redemption.

What inspired you to write this book?
This book has some thinly-disguised autobiographical passages of my life. It’s one in a series of books I’m planning to write

What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now I’m working on Twin Powers, the third installment of my Havana Series of thrillers, all with the same main characters. I’m halfway through it now and hope to have it ready for publication next year

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess always. I always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was a kid. I was nine years old when I wrote my first “novel” – a western – that my uncle proudly typed for me. I lost it somewhere. At fifteen, I wrote a suspense story that my teachers liked, and I lost that one too. In fact, all my early work has been lost.

Probably for the best, as I’m sure it would depress me to see all those writing mistakes now.

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 teach ESL and creative writing and sometimes even basic computer courses at A-B Tech Community College in Asheville. I usually write in the afternoons, before I pick up my 9-year old daughter Sophia from school at 3 pm.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t have one. I don’t need to sharpen my pencils or listen to a special song or exercise to be stimulated to write. Somehow I always have something to write about.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be three things: a cowboy, a writer, and a professional basketball player. I never made it as a professional basketball player, although I played high school and college ball. As a writer, this is my sixth published book and I have won five writing awards – so that part is doing fairly well. I never became a cowboy, either, but I am a good rider and spent years competing in equestrian show-jumping events, where I won numerous prizes – so while I didn’t quite make it as a cowboy, but I did something similar.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes, enjoy life, and never, ever, let anyone say you can’t do something. Success at anything begins in your mind. Believe in yourself and you will be successful.

Thanks for stopping by today, David.

Readers, here's a blurb for However Long the Night:
What if you found out your success was built on lies told by your father that caused great misfortune to people dear to you? What if you had the opportunity to do something about it…twenty-five years later and at the risk of your own life? Would you or wouldn’t you?

This is the dilemma award-winning Miami architect Cid Milan suddenly faces in this 90,000-word, mainstream novel. A Cuban immigrant forced to abandon his country as a teenager during the tumultuous Mariel boatlift of 1980, Cid is a self-made man who arrived in the United States with nothing. He’s an example of what can be accomplished in America through hard work and determination. He hobnobs with the Mayor, has a sexy model for his girlfriend, and is building the most luxurious condominium on Biscayne Bay. But when his dying father, Colonel Jose Milan, a well-known political dissident, confesses to him a shocking family secret from Cuba, Cid’s life implodes.

Colonel Milan reveals that in order to ensure Cid could leave Cuba unharmed, he collaborated with Castro’s police -- willfully betraying both Cid's best friend, Joaquin, and forsaking his pregnant girlfriend Sandra. Overnight, Cid’s world is turned upside down. Trying to unravel the mystery of his own past, Cid realizes there’s only one thing he can do: return to the land he abandoned. In his quest to learn the truth, Cid rediscovers himself and his roots as he reunites with Joaquin and searches frantically throughout Cuba for Sandra and the secret she has kept from him all these years: his son. In the process, Cid learns an invaluable lesson about love, forgiveness and redemption that changes his life forever.

Readers, David is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to a lucky winner during his tour. Feel free to comment here and on other sites he is visiting during his tour to increase your chances of winning.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Writer's Chatroom presents a Critique Chat

Sunday, February 26, The Writer's Chatroom will have a critique chat. Would you like a crit from the entire chatroom? Then follow the guidelines EXACTLY.



Email 200-300 words from your work. Paste your submission into the email.

Copy this list and put it at the beginning of the email, with your answers:

Format (short story, novel, etc):
Section: (beginning, middle, or end of piece):
Name you intend to publish under:
Name you use in the chatroom:

Submissions that follow the guidelines will be used in the order they are received. I don't know how many we will get through, but the queue starts when the first correct submission is received.

I strongly suggest you submit polished work. Most of our chatters are aiming for publication. To get there, you have to be able to handle honest critiques. I will not allow personal attacks, but problems in the writing will be openly discussed.
If you are not in attendence, your submission will be skipped. It's a waste of everyone's time to critique something if the author isn't there to hear it.
Fiction, nonfic, essay...doesn't matter. I recommend trying to get an entire scene into 300 words. Full scenes get better crits.
Why only 300 words? More than that will scroll off the screen too quickly. People need to be able to read it, to give a good crit.
Please be on time for this chat. Crosstalk, including greetings, will be kept to a bare minimum. Make sure you have floated and enlarged your screen in chat, so you can keep up.Here we go...let's see how many of you have learned to write well and follow submission guidelines. First submission up for crits is...  

Sunday, February 26, 2012
Eastern USA Time.....7 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are?


The Writers Chatroom at:

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Login. No password needed.

Please note:  The chatroom is only open for regularly scheduled chats. 

Don't forget the topic chats on Wednesday nights, 8-10 pm EST!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interview with paranormal thriller novelist Greg Kiser

Greg Kiser is here today as part of his inSyte virtual book tour with the Virtual Book Tour Cafe.

Greg Kiser is happily married to a wonderful and inspirational wife, Serena, and has two beautiful children – Miller and Grace.

Greg graduated from Southern Polytechnic University in Atlanta with a BS in Electrical Engineering. Greg also earned his MBA from the University of South Florida. He is currently a Director at Cisco, a high tech fortune 50 multinational corporation.

Greg has written extensively for fortune 50 high tech firms in describing next generation networks and painting pictures of the true evolution of technology for the consumer.

Welcome, Greg. Please tell us about your current release, inSyte.
It’s Tampa Bay, Florida and the year is 2020. Ex-Navy SEAL Mitch “Double” Downing discovers how to tap into the internet with his mind. His new inSyte provides transparent access to the sum of all human knowledge recorded since hieroglyphics.

If knowledge is power, Mitch just became the strongest man in the world.

But inSyte has ideas of its own as the software exposes a politician’s “divine” plan that will unwittingly slaughter millions of people. Is killing the man the only way to prevent Armageddon? The politician’s daughter would probably disagree. And she happens to be the love of Mitch’s life. Losing Kate would be too damn much collateral damage.

At the center of the conflict is a wolf-like killer who will stop at nothing to murder the ex-Navy SEAL. And Mitch must come to grips with inSyte’s dark side – a dominating addiction that soon controls his thoughts and places him on a steep slide to self destruction.

What inspired you to write this book?
I listened to Rudy Giuliani speak a year after 9/11. This was in August of 2002, just under a year since 9/11. Rudy spoke to a crowd of about 5,000 folks. He described the events of that day and it was very emotional, everyone loved the guy, he was held in such admiration.

He told the crowd that every great leader will possess spirituality. And when you have millions of people that you’re serving, there’s a natural temptation to believe that God put you there, there must be a divine intervention. Then the tendency is to think that any gut feeling you have, must be God’s decision.

So Rudy talked about how you have to avoid falling into that trap, you have to remain objective and realize you’re only human and they are your decisions.

I found that fascinating because I had never heard a politician talk like that. I think there are a number of politicians in the US and abroad, recently and not, where pragmatism was nowhere to be found. I wanted to explore that in a novel. Come on, there’s all kinds of room for conflict.

As for publishing, I self published on Amazon. The only way to go these days ;). Really pretty simple. Of course, the average book that self publishes on Amazon sells 100 copies to, you guessed it, friends and business associates and the like. So the trick is – how do you market the book further, drive sales.

At the end of the day, it’s all about word of mouth. So you have to get your book out there and it has to be good and then you need for word of mouth to help.

So – be sure it’s ready for prime time before you decide to self publish. I waited 3 years after my 1st draft because I wanted my novel to be as good as it could possibly be. Along the way I had some serious people read it and provide candid feedback. Enough good feedback to know I was onto something, enough bad feedback to keep me busy writing and rewriting and (yes) deleting!

What exciting story are you working on next?
Thinking about a sequel. Just thinking. Letting my mind sort through it subconsciously. Nothing exciting just yet.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t actually consider myself a writer. If someone at a party asks me what I do, I’ll say, “I’m a sales director at Cisco”. They’ll usually say, “Sysco, the food company?”. And I’ll reply, “No, Cisco, the high tech internet company” and that’s when their eyes usually glaze.
That would be so wonderful to one day be able to write full time and when people ask me what I do, I could say, “I’m a writer”. And they would know what that means.

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 have never written full time. My entire novel was written between 4:00am and 7:00am, before work. I am most definitely a morning person. Seems I’m able to tap into my subconscious somehow if I do so before I really wake up, before the rest of the world wakes up.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I hate to be boring. Especially to me! I’ll write a chapter and walk away. When I read it a month later I’m appalled. I find my mind wandering even while I’m reading my own words. Pretty bad, right?

So I rewrite. Spice up the action, change the verbs, more show – less tell, more realistic dialogue.

Sure, I do all that.

But the most important thing I do (ie, my quirk) is to delete. Words, sentences, paragraphs –anything that does not directly advance the story comes out. It’s like polishing to bring out the inner beauty. As Apple used to say, Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
That’s a damn good question. That was also a long time ago. What did I want to be? You know what, I think I wanted to be a writer. I had forgotten that. Thanks for reminding me. I started writing stories in about 3rd grade. Silly stories that were funny and made the class laugh. Stories about my dog, ridiculous stuff I made up.

I wrote a serious story about my brother who died in 2006. That was the first real story I wrote as an adult. It’s available for free at the following URL:

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
People will like the characters, they have heart. They come alive. And people will like the action, the way the conflict ratchets up toward the end when all of the characters come together.

And for all you aspiring writers out there… Don’t let ANYBODY read that initial draft. It will suck.

Oh – and don’t let ANYBODY read that initial draft. It will suck, indeed.

Hee hee, Greg, do you mean we shouldn't let anyone read our first drafts? Thanks for being here!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Interview with paranormal author Andrea DiGiglio

Paranormal writer Andrea DiGiglio is here today to chat about the first book in The Alice Clark series, Finding Alice.

Born and raised in Michigan, Andrea has always been a writer at heart. Over the last decade, she has written, starred in, and directed many screenplays. In the last few years, she decided to venture back into writing novels and hasn't looked back since. She is very excited to share the worlds she creates with all of you dreamers.

Welcome, Andrea. Please tell us about your current release.
Finding Alice is book one of The Alice Clark Series.

Cursed with an intense version of empathy, Alice runs from a wasted life to start a new one somewhere no one will know her; Hell, Michigan. Alice works at a hole-in-the-wall bar in the middle of nowhere mostly keeping to herself to avoid the overwhelming emotions of those around her. Alice allows her best friend to convince her into taking a few college classes without realizing it would drastically change her life forever. From her first day of class she was hooked on him; his scent, his eyes, the way he talked to her inside her head.

Throughout her struggles, she learns about true love, true pain, and the truth of her own heritage. Alice must quickly find out who she is, because, after all, everyone else is out to find her. With angels and bounty hunters in constant pursuit, she finds protection within a group of Fallen Angels. These Fallen Angels vow to do anything to protect her; for it is their belief she will save their kind and all of mankind.

What inspired you to write this book?
I love everything paranormal so when I began to write it honestly just happened. The first quarter of the book was just me typing away at the computer. Once that was written, I would sit back and read through it and try to find major plot points to follow, but ultimately Alice ran the whole show.

What exciting story are you working on next?
It’s a really difficult choice, but I believe it is a tie between Alice’s Sacrifice, Finding Alice’s sequel and the untitled paranormal novel I am working on with fellow author Jessica Gibson.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The child in me is screaming 4th grade. I used to carry around one of those composition notebooks and it held all my best stories. The adult in me would say around eighteen, that is when I truly took it seriously.

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?
This is one of the hardest questions for me. I work for the family business currently as my day job. When I get home I spend time with my son and dog and go about our routines. I write during naps, when he first goes to bed, lunch breaks, and any other free moment I can grab a hold of.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Not quite sure how to answer this. I do have a ritual when writing and usually I can get 5-10k words if I am not interrupted. I turn my writing playlist on, make coffee, and jam to the music. The slight distraction I feel opens me up to just write and let it pour out until my soul can’t lose anymore of itself.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be everything under the sun but mostly an actress.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Read, write, watch, love, dream, and get out there in the world and put your mark on it.

Great way to wrap up the interview, Andrea. Thanks for spending some time with us today!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Interview with historical cozy author Anna Maclean aka Jeanne Mackin

Today is an interview with writer Jeanne Mackin, aka Anna Maclean as a kickoff for her virtual book tour for her newest novel, Louisa and the Crystal Gazer.

Anna Maclean is the author of the Louisa May Alcott mysteries series. Aka Jeanne Mackin, she is an award winning journalist and the author of several historical novels as well. She lives in the finger Lakes area of New York with her husband.

Welcome, Anna. Please tell us about your current release.
Louisa and the Crystal Gazer is the third in a series of mysteries featuring Louisa May Alcott as an amateur detective. The books have been translated and published in Japan as well as in this country.

“Maclean has a wonderful grasp of the history, language and style of nineteenth-century Boston.”—The Best Reviews

Boston, 1855. With her timeless Little Women years away from fruition, Louisa May Alcott is busy writing “blood and thunder” romance stories. To get by, Louisa takes a job as a seamstress while the rest of the Alcott family winters in New Hampshire. Fortunately, Louisa has her friend Sylvia Shattuck to keep her company.

Louisa accompanies her friend to visit Boston’s most famous spiritual medium, Mrs. Agatha D. Percy, to contact Sylvia’s long-dead father. She isn’t one to believe such folderol, but thinks the experience may inspire her imagination—until a prediction that Louisa will have an unexpected guest is followed by the arrival of her little sister, Lizzie.

Louisa and Sylvia visit the seer again to confirm whether her gifts might be genuine—but Mrs. Percy’s days of divination have been brutally cut short by a killer. Now, Louisa must solve the mystery of the crystal gazer’s untimely death by uncovering the shocking truth about her life.

Praise for the Louisa May Alcott Mysteries

“Charming and clever amateur sleuth Louisa May Alcott springs to life.”—Karen Harper, National Bestselling Author of The Queen’s Governess

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always been fascinated by stories of spiritualism and hauntings and other doings of the supernatural. The nineteenth century was a particularly rich time for other-worldly events, with the Fox sisters beginning what came to be known as American Spiritualism – the kind where spirits knock on the tables and walls, and trumpets fall from the ceiling.

In this novel, I had a great time recreating what I thought an actual nineteenth century séance might be like…and then letting Louisa, and one of the murder suspects, P.T. Barnum himself, go through the process of debunking it. Louisa is full of warmth and sympathy, though, and she quickly understands what the séances are really about, for those attending: somehow healing the past. In this mystery, though, the past doesn’t heal until a murder is found.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m beginning a fourth mystery, in which Louisa is older and wiser and more experienced. In the first three mysteries, she is still a very young woman, just beginning her career as a writer. I’m going to move her forward in time, to when she is on the verge of becoming the very famous author of Little Women.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Always. I’ve been writing stories since I was first able to hold a pencil. As a child I loved fairy tales, and wrote my own, and then of course I fell absolutely in love with Nancy Drew. I also love historical fiction, so when I began my mystery series I knew it would be historical, with a strong woman protagonist.

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?
A couple of hours is all my imagination can take – it’s kind of like running. When I sit down to write, I’m a sprinter, not a long distance runner. I write first thing in the morning, and then spend the rest of the day taking care of the rest of my life. I also teach and that takes up the afternoons. I cook great meals, I dance, I garden. It is important to me to have balance in my life, and lots of stimulation, or I can feel my imagination begin to wither. I read like mad, all over the place, nonfiction and fiction, mysteries and contemporary mainstream…everything that looks good. There are piles of books all over my house.

Finding time, of course, is always an issue, and when I worked full time as a university journalist, and when my teaching load is heavy, I just have to be really strict with myself. A page, I tell myself, you can do a page, can’t you? And then the page turns into two or three, and I’ve managed my quota for the day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m still in love with the clacking keys of my old typewriter. I use a word processor, of course, but on days when the words are flowing like molasses, I go back to my typewriter and plunk and clack away. My cats love the sound and my husband hears it as a very useful warning: stay away!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Well, a writer, of course, interspersed with wanting to a missionary nun or a ballerina. Somehow my vision of my life was always one of traveling and creating stories, as do missionaries and ballerinas, and writers. My historical stories are very much a form of travel for me, a way of experiencing other lives and other cultures.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you so much for inviting me!

Excerpt from Louisa and the Crystal Gazer:

“I miss Father,” Sylvia signed one morning as we took our walk along the harbor. It was a misty cold day, and the harbor waves were tipped with frosty white.

“Unfortunately, your father passed away when you were a child,” I answered gently. “You barely knew that long-enduring man, so how do you now claim to miss him?”

“My point exactly,” my companion responded…“I feel the need for a masculine presence in my life, and would like to converse with my father. I will, with the assistance of Mrs. Agatha Percy. Please come with me to one of her sittings!”

I groaned and jammed my hands deeper into my pocket, despite the stares of several passersby; a lady did not put her hands in her pockets. She did if they were cold, I thought. Ship rigging creaked in the wind and bells chimed the start of a new watch, and I pondered Sylvia’s statement.

Mrs. Agatha D. Percy was the newest fad in Boston, one of the recently risen members of that questionable group of individuals known as ‘spiritists,’ or mediums…

“I can think of better ways to spend time and money than sitting in the dark and watching parlor tricks. I would much rather, for instance, attend one of Signor Massimo’s musical evening.” The signor, a famous pianist, was touring the United States from his home in Rome and had decided to winter in Boston. He was giving a series of performances – performances I could not afford, since the tickets were as much as three dollars apiece, even when they were available.

“Mother tried to get tickets and could not. She was furious,” Sylvia said. I could understand; women with Mrs. Shattuck’s family name and wealth were not accustomed to hearing no.

“Look, there is ice in the harbor,” I said, putting my hand over my eyes to shield them from the glare.

“I will have your answer,” Sylvia persisted.

I introduced several new topics of conversation, hoping to distract Sylvia from her mission – Jenny Lind, the Wild West, a newly published travel book about France that was flying off the shelves – but each topic she cleverly rejoined and detoured back to Mrs. Percy…

“Don’t you see?” Sylvia sighed in exasperation, pulling at my hand to prevent me from taking another step. “The spirits themselves wish you to visit her. They put those very suggestions in your mind!”

“Then they should put a plot or two in my mind,” I said, remembering the still-blank sheet of paper before which I had sat that morning at my desk. Being between stories was an unpleasant state for me, when no plot or story threaded the random thoughts of every imagination.

“I am unconvinced that ‘fun’ is the correct word to describe an hour of sitting in the dark, pretending to speak with the dead,” I said.

“Spirits,” corrected Sylvia. “The dead don’t like to be called dead. Such a harsh word.”

Neither of us was yet aware of exactly how harsh that séance would become.

You can connect with Anna through her website or through her author page on Facebook.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Live chat/interview with romance author Carolyn Jewel

The Writer's Chatroom presents historical and paranormal romance author Carolyn Jewel.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Eastern USA Time.....7-9 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are?


The Writers Chatroom at:

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Interview with autobiographer Robert Radcliffe

Today's guest author is Robert Radcliffe. He's here to talk about his memoir, 180 Degrees.

Robert abandoned the deadly path that drug abuse and drug dealing was leading him down. After considerable struggles, at the age of twenty-two (March 11, 1991) Robert was able to turn his life around "180 Degrees.” Robert soon realized that sobriety and hard work provided him inner-peace and prosperity beyond his highest expectations, resulting in becoming a self-made millionaire by the age of thirty.

Eternally grateful to everyone who helped him become and remain sober, Robert felt an overwhelming duty to reach out to addicts like himself and hopes his story will inspire others battling addiction to find their own success.

Once achieving monetary abundance, Robert has been an active citizen and philanthropist. Deeply concerned for the well-being of young adults, Robert has been the speaker for drug and alcohol abuse classes at high schools, juvenile detention centers, recovery hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Also, he is a panel speaker and secretary at many twelve-step meetings.

In 1998, Robert was a Co-Founder of the Golf Tournament benefitting Habit for Humanity Charity at the Malibu Country Club. In 2000, 2001, and 2002 Robert sponsored the Charity Tennis Tournament benefitting Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the Riviera Country Club. And in 2003 and 2004 he co-sponsored the Tennis Tournament benefitting Chrysalis, which took place at The Riviera Country Club.

Some of Robert's business accomplishments include real estate office manager, agent coach, and has been the key note speaker at over fifty company office meetings, participated in agent training videos, and he has been featured in print and on television. With over twenty years experience in real estate, he is considered one of the nation's leading agents.

Now, at the age of forty, Robert is a successful business man and loving family man residing in Los Angeles, California with his wife and two sons.

Please tell us about your book.
180 Degrees is my autobiography. I turned my life around 180 degrees. I went from being a daily-using drug addict and occasional ‘big shot’ dealer to, eventually, a homeless junkie living on the streets. Today I am a completely sober, self-reliant, self-employed husband, father, and self-made millionaire.

What inspired you to write this book?
It took a few years to write 180 Degrees and it wasn’t easy. For years, I hadn’t even considered writing an autobiography and it wasn’t until an acquaintance of mine turned on the light bulb one day by reminding me that a book like this would not be for me, rather it would be to help the millions of people that are struggling with the nightmare of addiction.

Are working on another book at this time?
I am currently focusing on 180 Degrees, hoping to reach as many people as possible with my story, and have not yet begun on a new story.

How does writing fit into your life? Is it a priority?
I am a full time real estate agent. 180 Degrees is the first and only book I have written so far. With my wife, sons, and real estate career it was hard to find time to sit down and focus on writing. I got all my writing done early in the morning, sometimes even starting at 3AM. Other than writing and real estate, I like to meditate, jog, read, surf, and spend time with friends and family.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My writing is personal. I did not hold anything back when writing 180 Degrees. I put everything out on the table.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was too consumed with drugs and alcohol growing up to contemplate what I wanted to be.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
No matter how far down the drug or alcohol rat hole you go, there is hope, a way out, and the possibility of creating the life of your dreams: spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally and financially.

I hope you enjoy reading 180 Degrees! It is currently available on Kindle for only $3.99. Be sure to check out the 180 Degrees website (, it includes behind the scenes views and helpful resources.

Robert, thank you for being here today and giving us an insight into your book. Thanks for getting it out in the world.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Interview with memoirist Margaret Norton

Margaret Norton joins the blog today to talk about her first book, a memoir titled When Ties Break:A Memoir About How to Thrive After Loss.

Margaret is having a contest while she does her virtual book tour - it's open to folks who comment and/or Tweet. Details are below.

Margaret Norton is a writer, speaker, personal life coach, and It Works! distributor. She blogs about her life at Her first book, When Ties Break: A Memoir About How to Thrive After Loss, is available as an e-book for just 99 cents on and Barnes and In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids, reading, traveling, photography, and dancing.

Welcome, Margaret. Please tell us about your book.
The day of my father's funeral, my brother expelled me from the family as my other family members stood by and did nothing. He was right about one thing. I had made some bad choices for which I would pay dearly. Divorce, abuse, abortion, death, bankruptcy, sibling rivalry, adultery, drug addiction, low self-esteem - some people suffer from one or several of these in their life; others deal with them daily. What makes the story in When Ties Break different, exceptional, and inspirational is that I have lived through each one of these challenging problems. Through God's help and my own courage and perseverance, I not only thrived after loss but came out on top with a new energy, a renewed spirit, and a greater sense of worth.

What inspired you to write this book?
In 2004, eight people that I knew, including my brother and mother-in-law, died. I started writing to deal with my grief and in search of unanswered questions.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The book was the first thing that I wrote – which is not the best way to start as a writer. Now I am going back to the beginning and doing short stores, articles, devotions, etc. I might write another book, but no time soon. If I do it will probably be a collection of women’s survival stories.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Having my book published, receiving that first box of books.

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 in the mortgage business for 18 years with lots of layoffs in the past few years. When I’m working it’s very long hours and very hard finding the time to write. But I’m hoping this is going to change. I also work as a Personal Life Coach and I’m a distributor for It Works! products. My goal is to be self supporting by the end of this year so that I no longer have to work in the corporate world.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Interesting that my high school friends tell me that I wanted to be a writer. But life got in the way and I never pursued that dream. I was 54 when I started to write.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
You can survive difficult situations. Don’t let others define your goals and dreams. It’s never too late to start over. If you don’t like who you are, maybe it’s time to re-invent yourself.

Readers can find me on Twitter and Facebook.

I'm hosting a blog comment contest and Twitter hashtag contest (#Celebrate 60) from Feb. 6 to Feb. 29. I'm celebrating my 60th birthday by giving away three prizes: one 30-minute FREE life coaching session (by phone - for U.S. residents only), one e-book copy of When Ties Break (for anyone!), and one paperback copy of When Ties Break (for U.S. residents only).

Leave a comment on this post to enter into my "Celebrate 60 blog" tour contest. Each blogger participating in the tour will randomly select one winner from all the comments and enter that name into the grand prize drawing. I'll contact the three grand prize winners for their choice of prize the week of 2/27 and announce winners on my blog on March 2.

***For extra entries into the contest, please tweet about the contest, using the hashtag #Celebrate60 OR tweet about why you love being the age you are! (Don’t forget to use the hashtag.) Anyone who tweets with #Celebrate60 will get an extra entry into the contest for the three grand prizes. Any questions? E-mail Margo, Margaret’s publicist, at margo (at)

Thank you for being here, today, Margaret!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Interview with multi-genre writer Robert Earle

Robert Earle, a multi-genre writer is today's guest. His newest book, The Man Clothed in Linen: The Messiah or Herod’s Son? is historical fiction.

Robert Earle was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania and educated at The Hill School, Princeton, and Johns Hopkins. He is the author of The Way Home, a novel; Nights in the Pink Motel, a critically acclaimed memoir of a year in Iraq; and dozens of short stories that have appeared in literary magazines across the U.S. and Canada. Robert Earle also was contributing co-editor of “Identities in North America: Search for Community”. For twenty-five years he was a senior diplomat and national security official,serving in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Washington, and New York.

He lives and writes in Arlington, Virginia.

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Robert. Please tell us about your current release.
The Man Clothed in Linen is historical fiction, a novel that places Jesus at the center of the contending forces of his age: imperial Rome, Rome’s surrogate rulers in Palestine, the Herods, and the Jewish people whose faith and practice was being torn between Temple Judaism in Jerusalem and the Judaism of the hinterlands (embodied first by John the Baptist and then Jesus.)

Herod the Great was the dominant figure of Palestine when Jesus was born, but the novel opens with him failing in health (and possibly impregnating a girl named Mary from Bethlehem who was brought to his bed to warm him). So the question arises: who will succeed him?

Before he dies, Herod takes bloody actions against the Jews to warn them that whoever comes next will face grave difficulties if they rebel against his personal patron, Augustus Caesar. Then he settles on the weaker of his two acknowledged sons, Archelaus, as his heir. Before long, the Romans remove Archelaus while permitting the other legitimate son, Antipas, to retain the title Tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, but not king.

This is something of an upstairs/downstairs novel because its action is largely perceived by Nicolas of Damascus, Herod’s court historian, who is very close to Antipas’s steward’s wife, Joanna, but also is well-known to Augustus.

Nicolas and Joanna are the ones who save the infant Jesus’ life when Herod orders him found and killed, and the two of them are confronted with the fact, twelve years later, that the boy and his mother and step-father (Joseph) have relocated to Galilee, where Antipas has become Tetrarch.

Living an intimate life in quiet Galilee, where everyone knows everyone, Nicolas and Joanna witness the strange evolution of Antipas’s court and his determination to win back the throne in Jerusalem.

First John the Baptist gets in the way, leading to his shocking beheading. Then Jesus emerges, to whom Joanna attaches herself. This places Nicolas in the position of bridge between Antipas and Jesus on the one hand and Antipas and Pilate on the other.

The story of the New Testament then takes over, incident by incident, miracle by miracle, but is perceived from within the camps of the contending parties. Jesus wants to continue John the Baptist’s work of revitalizing Judaism. Pilate wants Antipas to quiet the disruptions in his land. Antipas wants to see an end to both Pilate and Jesus.

Antipas has come to know the possibility that Jesus is his half-brother by the time Pilate offers him the chance to spare Jesus’ crucifixion. We know Antipas’s decision. We also witness the callous way in which Pilate flaunts his power. He did not need Antipas to take Jesus back to Galilee in order to spare Jesus’ life.

What inspired you to write this book?
I received a somewhat unusual secondary education in Bible studies, ancient history, Latin and Greek. When the “historical Jesus” movement began to flourish (led by writers like Paula Fredriksen and John Dominic Crossen), I was moved to use fiction to get inside the ancient texts and explore them through characters in conflict. A number of these characters had long been compelling enigmas to me: Jesus, John the Baptist, Herod the Great and his sons, the Caesars, and the array of “little people,” like Joanna who are named but not fully developed in the New Testament.

There is only so much that “history” can do with all this; fiction can do more, but one individual, Nicolas of Damascus, was in fact an historian, and he was my narrative key. Nicolas was tutor to the children of Antony and Cleopatra, counselor to Herod the Great, and ultimately a member of Augustus’s court. Can you imagine such a first-hand exposure to history? When I learned what there is to know about Nicolas of Damascus, I saw the whole Mediterranean world come together in a fascinating story.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am writing a cycle of stories that extends The Brothers Karamazov from its ending (all three brothers are alive) through emigration to the United States and three successor generations of Russian-Americans whose family business comes to be helping Russians first escape czarism and then communism. This is a family saga that covers almost 100 years. As in The Man Clothed in Linen, I make use of certain historical figures: Chekhov, Lenin, Jung, and Solzhenitsyn, for example.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I probably saw myself as a writer when I was fifteen. I had been reading Dickens, Hemingway, Salinger, Crane, Twain, Conrad, and the like, and I wanted to do what they seemed to do: create worlds with words that were richer than the world itself.

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. For me that means sitting down with a cup of coffee between seven and eight in the morning and writing until eleven or twelve. I do this every day of the week. I discovered a long time ago that “life” is so full of distractions that I had to get the writing done first. After I write, I work out for a few hours and then come back to do administrative things--sending out stories, corresponding with editors, etc.-- and pursue my reading. When I’m working on fiction that has a strong historical component, I read piles of books relevant to my subject. Otherwise, I read all kinds of things--fiction, history, philosophy, poetry and several newspapers and journals.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I suppose my most interesting quirk, as you put it, is that I follow my pen when I’m drafting. I try to stay tuned-in to what is emerging and let it have its way. I don’t hold back. I over-write, if you will. It’s much easier to cut later on than to add what once was within your grasp but later on has floated away. I must say that I do admire writers who take a different approach. Graham Greene is said to have written 500 words a day, gotten them just right, and then put his pen down. Nabokov perfected sentences on notecards. I’m not that kind of writer; I call what I do “white water” drafting, as in paddling wildly down a river in a kayak trying to move in generally the right direction. I like that term - white water drafting - great description.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a little boy the index and middle fingers of my right hand were mangled in a church door, and a local surgeon, Dr. Jenkins, stitched them back together again so that they’re perfectly functional, if a little disfigured. So I wanted to be a surgeon like Dr. Jenkins, who was known as “Jenks.” And if I couldn’t be a surgeon, I would have liked to play major league baseball. I was absolutely passionate about baseball.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The Man Clothed in Linen is a story about the birth of Western Civilization. The period I write about is the period when the forces that created “us” came together, uniting Roman, Greek, and Judeo-Christian traditions and values. Nicolas of Damascus clearly is my alter ego, the figure with whom I identify most closely. For me, John the Baptist is the most compelling figure--I just love the passages of the book where he is central to the story--and Jesus, befittingly, is the most enigmatic, but I hope I have captured his rare blend of vision, dignity, compassion and fatalism.

Robert, thanks for being here today and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing. You certainly have variety!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Interview with writer Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Today we get to find out a little about Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar (Mohadoha), and her book Mommy but Still Me as she travels along a virtual book tour.

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a writer who has lived in Qatar since 2005. She has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. Her dissertation project was published as Haram in the Harem (Peter Lang, 2009) a literary analysis of the works of three Muslim women authors in India, Algeria, and Pakistan. She is the creator and co-editor of five books in the Qatar Narratives series, as well as the Qatari Voices anthology which features essays by Qataris on modern life in Doha (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2010). Her research has been published in numerous journals and anthologies.

She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine based in Doha and a winner of the She Writes We Love New Novelists competition. She has been a regular contributor for Variety Arabia, AudioFile Magazine, Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, Expat Arrivals, Speak Without Interruption and Qatar Explorer. She hosted two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio.

Currently Mohana is working on a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf and a novel based in Qatar. She believes words can help us understand ourselves and others. Catch up on her latest via her blog or follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.

Welcome, Mohana. Please tell us about your current release.
This is the modern woman's guide to switching from jet setter to incubator, Mommy but Still Me retells the story of a first-time mother with humor and honesty. From sex with a purpose to ankles swelling into cankles, this is a no-holds barred look at the all the changes, big and small; from knowing "hipster" as a term that describes your generation to using it describe where you like to carry things.

What inspired you to write this book?
I didn’t want to forget anything because of the sleep deprivation in any of these stages so I searched for a way to hold on to some of the funnier, difficult, joyous moments. I kept a blog for about two years to record the process of trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, and then having and raising a baby.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m dipping myself completely into the world of fiction and the inner lives of people that often don’t appear as mainstream characters. I can’t wait to share these unique individuals with my readers!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
About a year ago

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 probably one day a week and a few hours scattered between picking up a child from nursery, exercising because of said child, and teaching undergraduates how to avoid bad prose.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I work on more than one project at a time (3 novels are in various stages at the moment, and one collection of essays).

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An American football coach. No idea why. Football just seemed so exciting!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope you relate to the struggles my characters go through to find happiness and see in them parts of your own journey.

I wrote this book as I wrestled with the idea of becoming a mother my way. I started a firm conviction that I would not disappear into a creature with applesauce in her hair, unable to sustain a conversation about anything other than sleeping schedules and teething remedies. And I ended--- well you'll have to read the book! For those starting the journey, I hope you know you're not alone in the worries and dreams that plague you while contemplating the biggest change of your life. And for those who are second, third, or multiple timers, I hope you find aspects of my story that resonate with your own. If these anecdotes do, or don't, drop me a note and tell me why.

Here is a book trailer for my book, too.

All tour dates and blog stops are here.

Thanks for being here today, Mohana!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Live chat/interview with fantasy novelist Arley Cole

The Writer's Chatroom presents fantasy novelist Arley Cole.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Eastern USA Time.....7-9 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are?


The Writers Chatroom at:

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Sign In. No password needed.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Interview with multi-genre writer Cindi Maciolek

Today's guest, Cindi R. Maciolek is sharing about birds, writing, and more. Read on for the fun and to learn more about her book Divatiel: Reflections of a Bird’s Companion.

Cindi R. Maciolek is a writer and business consultant, whose previously published works include Java Jems: 5 Minute Inspirations for Busy People and The Basics of Buying Art. She’s also a contributing author to the books Life Choices: Pursuing Your Passion and Life Choices: It’s Never Too Late. Maciolek has written numerous articles for the luxury marketplace, including the Robb Report and Luxury Las Vegas. Maciolek lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

On the web:
Twitter: @cindimaciolek and @divatiel
Facebook: Cindi Maciolek – Writer

Welcome, Cindi. Please tell us about your current release.
Divatiel: Reflections of a Bird’s Companion, is the true story of life with a diva-tastic cockatiel. It’s a memoir of love, a tribute to my fine feathered friend. Jake’ pretty much ruled the roost for the 17 years we were together. Certainly, I allowed her to do so, but I also had no idea how much fun living with a cockatiel could be. The book was probably a three year project, but now that it’s out, I have the opportunity to share her story with others. She had so many experiences, from getting stuck inside the kitchen cabinets to being injured at the vet’s office to flying on an airplane. I also learned a lot about life from Jake’ and I have a list at the back of the book highlighting key lessons from the Divatiel. I can’t imagine ever having another bird like Jake’ and I suspect her life was one of a kind. I hope that readers feel the love and help me share her story with others.

What inspired you to write this book?
From the moment I met my little birdie, she impressed me with her intelligence and her ability to interact with me. I’d regale others with tales of her antics, and time and time again I was told, “You ought to write a book! She’s too funny!” So, one day, I began to gather a collection of short stories about her. I intended it to be a sort of introduction to life with a bird, but my cockatiel in particular.

As I sent it out for comments, everyone came back suggesting I rewrite it as a complete story, in chronologic order. It nearly tripled the size of the book, but it’s such a better read, I have to admit.

I searched and found very few books about life with pet birds written from an owner’s perspective. Most people understand what life is like with a dog or a cat, but birds are a completely different animal. Some people who have birds simply keep them in cages and have limited interaction with them. That was not the case with Jake’. We interacted significantly throughout her life, right from the day I brought her home.

I also want animal lovers of all types to enjoy and understand what life was like in Divatieldom. If you’re bonded with your pet, chances are you’ve shared similar experiences and you can identify with them.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working both sides of my brain. For my left brain, I’m finishing a business book that I started a couple of years ago. I really struggled with the structure of the book, and I finally feel comfortable with where it’s going. I want it to be useful to entrepreneurs or those considering starting their own business.

For my right brain, I’m deep into a chick lit novel that I love, love, love! I came up with the idea many years ago and it’s great to see it coming to fruition. It will make a fun beach/cruise read.

I’m always working on screenplay ideas of some sort, too. And, children’s books. I have a whole series I’d love to publish.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve written since I was about four years old, so I guess I’ve always considered myself a writer in some way, although I only just allowed myself to think in those terms. As an adult, most of my writing has been in the business world. It wasn’t until really recently that I looked back on my life and thought, wow! I’m a writer! I couldn’t possibly be me if I didn’t write. It’s so engrained in my being.

Now, am I the world’s greatest writer? I think not, but I certainly have a lot to offer. I also rather enjoy bringing voice to those who, for some reason, aren’t capable of expressing themselves. I want my readers to enjoy what I write and to learn something at the same 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?
Oh, that my books would sell in the millions and I could write full-time!

I work as a business consultant, particularly with entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized companies. I thoroughly enjoy it! When you click with your client, there’s a great synergy that takes place and it feels wonderful to help them reach the next level in their business. I also write regularly for Luxury Las Vegas. My editor is awesome!

Finding time to write can sometimes be a challenge. I tend to write a lot in my head, so when I sit down at the computer, it usually flows more easily. If I’m consistent about setting aside one or two hours a day, I can accomplish a lot, but it seems I’ll go in fits and starts where I’ll be consistent for awhile, then I take a break. I’m a night owl, so writing later in the day is more typical but there’s great satisfaction in getting out of bed and laying down a good chapter before doing anything else that day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I read aloud when I edit. If something doesn’t read aloud easily, it needs to be fixed. I also embody the characters as I read, using different voices and actions. It helps me to bring the story to life and envision what it will be like on the big screen someday.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Since I began writing at such a young age, I always wanted to be a writer. However, I have other creative interests that I’ve pursued at times, including fashion design and singing/songwriting, but it always swings back to writing and business consulting. It’s in my blood!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
This project was definitely a team effort. I have to give a big shoutout to Shelly Volsche who did a great job with the cover design, layout and Divatiel logo. I absolutely love her work and she helped define the look of it all. Valory Degree was a huge help from an editing standpoint, and our interactions kept the book moving forward. I also want to give big thanks to all my readers who gave me honest and helpful comments, and my nephew, Dan, for the subtitle.

I want to use this book and the upcoming merchandising (tiaras should arrive shortly, other items on the way) as a vehicle to pay it forward. Jake’ would have wanted me to help other pets and that’s what I intend to do. I invite your readers to keep tabs on future projects at and

And, thanks so much for the opportunity!

Thank you, Cindi. You certainly are a multi-talented writer!

Readers, you can read more about Cindi as she tours her book at these other blogs through March.

Feel free to comment and let Cindi know you read this interview, too.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Interview with romantic suspense novelist Trish McCallan

Romantic suspense author Trish McCallan is on the blog today talking about Forged in Fire, dreams, and Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Trish McCallan has been writing for as long as she can remember.

In grade school, she wrote children’s stories, illustrated them with crayons and bound the sheets together with pencil-punched holes and red yarn. She used to sell these masterpieces at her lemonade stand for a nickel a book. Surprisingly, people actually bought them. Like, all of them. Every night she’d write a new batch for her basket.

As she got older, her interest shifted to boys and horses. The focus of her literary masterpieces followed this shift. Her first full length novel was written in seventh grade and featured a girl, a horse, and a boy. At the end of the book the teenage heroine rode off into the sunset . . . with the horse.

These days, Trish sticks to romantic suspense with hot alpha heroes and roller-coaster plots. Since she is a fan of all things bizarre, paranormal elements always find a way into her fiction. Her current release, Forged in Fire, was the result of a Black Dagger Brotherhood reading binge, a cold, a bottle of NyQuil and a vivid dream.

Welcome, Trish. Please tell us about Forged in Fire.
Beth Brown doesn’t believe in premonitions until she dreams a sexy stranger is gunned down during the brutal hijacking of a commercial airliner. When events in her dream start coming true, she heads to the flight’s departure gate. To her shock, she recognizes the man she’d watched die the night before.

Lieutenant Commander Zane Winters comes from a bloodline of elite warriors with psychic abilities. When Zane and two of his platoon buddies arrive at Sea-Tac Airport, he has a vision of his teammates’ corpses. Then she arrives—a leggy blonde who sets off a different kind of alarm.

As Beth teams up with Zane, they discover the hijacking is the first step in a secret cartel’s deadly global agenda and that key personnel within the FBI are compromised. To survive the forces mobilizing against them, Beth will need to open herself to a psychic connection with the sexy SEAL who claims to be her soul mate.

Nominated For 2011’s Best Paranormal Romance by The Romance Review!

Forged In Fire is a smoking hot adventure with an irresistible alpha hero. Danger, action, suspense, and a steamy romance make a story that’s impossible to put down!” –Patti O’Shea, National Bestselling Author of Through a Crimson Veil

What inspired you to write this book?
I actually dreamed the opening to Forged in Fire. In fact, I dreamed the opening sequence
over and over through the course of a week. Eventually, I sat down and typed out that opening scene; hoping the act of getting the scene down on the computer would excise the images from my brain. I thought my focus on the dream would fade once I’d actually written it out and that I’d be able to turn my attention back to the book I was revising back then. Except, once I started working on the dream sequence, the characters sprang to life and I quickly became obsessed with the story.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently working on the second book in the Forged series. This book is another high octane romantic thriller, with a working title of Forged in Ice. This book begins where Forged in Fire left off and continues the rollercoaster ride started in Forged in Fire. The hero in the second book is Lieutenant Marcus Simcosky, one of the secondary heroes in Forged in Fire.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, so I have always considered myself 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?
On December 15th of 2011, I quit my day job to write full time. My work day starts at 6:00 am. I generally record the previous day’s sales, answer email, and drink coffee while I wait for the sky to lighten enough to go for a walk. Once it is light enough outside, I go for a nice long walk- usually takes around 45 minutes. When I get home I shower, eat breakfast, and do some light housekeeping. At 9:00 am I head to the office to begin the day’s work. I break for lunch at 1 pm- then write from 2:00 until 6:00 pm. If there is any promo to do, I take care of it after 6:00 pm. If there is no promo, I take care of any writing related bookkeeping, and go through email again. I’m usually done by 8:00 pm at which point I make dinner, do some more housekeeping and end the night watching television.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
That I am a weird combination of pantzer and plotter. My first two drafts are done with no outline and no idea of where the story is going. I just sit down and write. But on the third draft I assess the story and I outline the next draft in detail, chapter by chapter, then scene by scene. This approach seems to allow me to retain the creativity and the rollercoaster plots, while maintaining the tension, plot arc and character building.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always had an affinity for animals, so I wanted to be a vet or a marine biologist specializing in whales.

If people would like to connect, here's how:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Kindle

Thanks for visiting, Trish!