Thursday, June 28, 2012

Interview with MG Christian author Dana Rongione

Today's guest author is Dana Rongione. She's wrapping up a virtual book tour with Virtual Book Tour Cafe today for her new MG novel The Delaware Detectives.

There's a chance to win an e-copy of the novel. Details after the interview.

Welcome, Dana. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Dana Rongione. (Yes, I know that's a mouthful.) I live in Greenville, SC with my husband, Jason, and my two dogs, Tippy and Mitch.

Having been a Christian for nearly 28 years, I know what it is like to experience both joy in the journey and weariness in well-doing. Currently self-employed as a writer and speaker, I struggle (like many other Christians) to balance the demands of work, family, church, health, chores, etc.

I enjoy all types of writing, but my true joy lies in writing devotionals that will encourage and uplift the weak and weary Christian. This blog, A Word Fitly Spoken, is currently read in over 15 different countries, allowing me the opportunity to spread the message of hope and joy throughout the world. I also have another blog, Song of the Day , that offers the truth of the Word in song.

I currently have three published devotionals. two children's books, a healthy living handbook and numerous articles in magazines and e-zines across the country. I am available to speak at local ladies' meetings or writers' workshops. You can find out more about me and my ministry by visiting my website at

Please tell us about your current release.
The Delaware Detectives is a novel intended for readers in the age range of 8-14 years, though that's not to say readers of other ages won't enjoy it. In fact, one of the most enthusiastic responses I've received about the book was from a lady nearing her 70s. The story is about a brother and sister who discover a cryptic clue while visiting their grandfather for the summer. That discovery leads them on a hunt to try to uncover a secret fortune that may or may not truly exist. The book is filled with mysterious elements, comical characters and valuable morals.

What inspired you to write this book?
I first began writing The Delaware Detectives as an assignment for a course I took through The Institute of Children’s Literature. Through the course, I had learned to write about what I know and what I’m passionate about. As a mystery lover and elementary school teacher, I could think of no better story for me to write. Based on some true life experiences, The Delaware Detectives was born. Sad to say, that was six years ago. Yes, it took me six years to finish and publish the story, but now that’s it’s finished, I can’t wait to begin the next one.

Nice segue. What exciting story are you working on next?
I currently have several works in various stages of completion. I have three new devotional/Christian living titles that I hope to have completed within the next few months. Additionally, I have two children's picture books that are in the process of being illustrated and one young adult book that is in the editing/revision stage. And, as if that weren't enough, I'm in the planning stage for the next book in The Delaware Detectives series.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I've dabbled in writing all my life, but I don't think I seriously considered myself a writer until I left my teaching job to write full time. Even after that, it took a couple of years before I could say, "I'm a writer" without getting a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. Now that I have several publications, it's easy to say, "Yes, I'm a writer, and I'm proud of it!"

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?
Despite my young age (wink, wink), I have a lot of back and shoulder problems. Because of this, I can't spend long periods of time sitting at my desk. So my writing process usually involves writing for thirty minutes to an hour then getting away from my desk and doing something else for a while, whether it be doing the dishes, walking the dogs, reading a book, sweeping the floors, etc. Most of these things work as a good time for me to think about what I've just written and what I want to write next. Then I'll go back to my desk, write for another thirty minutes to an hour and then get up again to do something more physical. At first, I was afraid all the ups and downs would prove to be time-consuming and distracting, but I've actually discovered the opposite to be true. By taking breaks before my body grows tired, I'm able to get more writing done in any given day. Additionally, the time away from my desk gives my mind the time it needs to rehearse and compose what needs to be said when I get back to my writing. It's strange, but it works for me.

In my spare time. . . sorry, I had to stop laughing. . .like there's any "spare time" around here. Anyway, when I'm not writing, I keep myself busy with church functions and obligations (I serve as church pianist, sing special music, teach the ladies' Sunday School class, etc.), teaching (I teach at a local Bible college), hiking, reading, and the million other things that come into my life during any given week.  I also strive to set aside uninterrupted time to spend with my husband, like our weekly "date night".

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Music! I must have music playing when I write. I can't write when it's quiet. If I don't have  music, I at least need nature sounds like a babbling brook, singing birds and the like. Road noise doesn't work. Voices are distracting. But soft music helps me get in touch with my creative side and allows my brain to relax and focus on the matter at hand.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Throughout my childhood, I longed to be a teacher. I played "classroom" nearly every day after school.  (I had the smartest dolls and stuffed animals in the neighborhood!) My mom was a teacher, and I longed to be just like her, except I wanted to teach young children instead of high school. 

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes, I have a few things. First, I want to thank everyone for following my tour. Second, I want to let everyone know that The Delaware Detectives is currently available in paperback ($7.95) and Kindle (only $2.99) and will, Lord willing, be available in all other e-book formats by the middle of the summer. Lastly, I want to let you know where you can find me online:

Blogs:   A Word Fitly Spoken: Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.
            Song of the Day:
Twitter: @DRongione

Thanks, Dana. And, Readers, don't forget to leave a comment and your e-mail address if you'd like to be in the running to win a Kindle copy of The Delaware Detectives. Feel free to leave a comment without your e-mail, too! Today is the last day of Dana's tour!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Interview with sci-fi novelist Keira Michelle Telford

Today's guest is science fiction novelist Keira Michelle Telford who is touring her novel SILVER: Entropy with Virtual Book Tour Cafe.

Keira will be giving away 2 signed paperbacks during her tour. So if you'd like to be entered to win, leave your e-mail address with your comment below. You can also visit her other tour stops and leave comments for more chances to win.

Keira Michelle Telford was born and raised in the UK. She spent the early part of her childhood in Worcestershire, before the family moved to Wales where she lived for most of her teenage years. In 2006, she moved to Canada. She currently resides in beautiful British Columbia, where she lives with her husband and 10 guinea pigs.

Welcome, Keira. Please tell us about your current release.
SILVER: Acheron is the first book (a 40,000 word novella) in a 10-book series featuring the character of Ella ‘Silver’ Cross. Set more than 300 years in the future, the Silver Series takes place in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world where humans are a species on the brink of extinction. No longer at the top of the food chain, humans are preyed upon by the Chimera—genetic mutants that outnumber humankind 25:1.

And Silver is a Hunter—the best in the city. At least, she used to be…

Dishonorably discharged from the Hunter Division and banished for crimes she did not commit, Silver struggles to come to terms with her new prison-like surroundings: a segregated area of the city called the Fringe District, populated by murderers, thieves and rapists.

Starving, and desperate for money, she reluctantly accepts the Police Division's invitation to enroll in a covert Bounty Hunter program: an initiative devised to infiltrate the criminal underworld of the Fringers, and to force the very worst warrant dodging law-breakers to meet their fate—death.

Unfortunately, Silver doesn't realize that the Police Division is about to up the ante. They need more than little snippets of information and arrests—they need someone to pull the trigger.

They need an executioner.

What inspired you to write this book?
In one way or another, I’ve been writing these books for over a decade. Of course, the series has changed heaps since I first conceived it. Those who’ve been following my guest posts on this tour will know that it was originally set in space. Yup. I almost wrote a space opera. I guess what originally inspired me to write these books were the characters themselves. I’ve ‘known’ Silver since I was about 13 or 14. She wasn’t called that then, but she looked the same. Her name changed about three times as I tested her out in various different situations and universes. The other characters came later, as different social interactions started to click on the page.

Who knew the Police Division had safe houses tucked away all over the Fringe District?
Silver didn’t.
Luka takes more than a little pride in showing off one of his Division’s best kept secrets, and also hopes that something about this experience will perk up her mood.
Punching his key code into a concealed pad behind a disused electrical box, he swipes his wrist across a hidden tag plate and beams a grin back at her over his shoulder.
“Hunter’s have got their toys, we’ve got ours.”
The entry system seems to like his credentials, and an inconspicuous cellar door clicks and pops on the inside as the locking mechanism swiftly retracts behind it. Lifting the lid on the place, Luka ushers Silver hastily down a steel step ladder into the bunker beneath.
He’s right on her tail, and the door automatically reseals itself behind them—locking them in.
“What is this place?” Silver wonders.
“Nothing, so far as any civilians know. To them, there’s nothing down here but dirt. To us, it’s a covert safe house. It’s not finished yet, mind you.”
He’s not wrong.
The floor is a mixture of concrete and loose wooden planks. The walls are bare drywall, waiting to be painted, and there aren’t any doors. Silver can see three rooms: a kitchen, bathroom and a small living and sleeping area.
“I could totally live here.”
“Not without company.” Luka nods to the CCTV monitoring system, wired in to every room. “It’s not hooked up in here yet, but it soon will be.”
Silver’s still stuck on one tiny detail. “A safe house for what? You’re planning on starting a witness protection program for all of your little snitches?”
Luka shrugs. “Once it’s fully operational, the safe house network should help us keep our assets alive just long enough to get what we need from them.”
Silver, who is unquestionably the Police Division’s best asset, develops furrows in her brow at his nonchalant disregard for the lives of the people they’re buying.
“And how long do you expect that to be, typically? I’m just wondering if I should cancel my gym membership.”
Her sarcasm alerts him to the taste of his own toes, but it’s too late to take it back properly. “You don’t count.”
“No? Why not?”
“You’re not like them.”
Covered in the blood of a man she just slaughtered, Silver would beg to differ.
“After what I did today, I reckon the only things left separating me from them are oral hygiene and clean undies.”
“Come on, Silver, it was self-defense.”
“The first shot, maybe. The second and third were questionable. The one that blew his face off? That one was pure anger.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently writing SILVER: Quietus (the fifth book in the series, working title) and editing SILVER: A New Age Dawns (the fourth book). A New Age Dawns is due for a digital release later this summer, and will be available in paperback by the fall.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
As soon as I was old enough to know what it meant to be devoted to ‘words that stay’.

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 a good week, I can spend about 50 hours writing. At that pace, and if I were being paid hourly, I’d be raking in 40 hours of overtime every month. How awesome would that be? Then, there are those weeks where my pen barely touches the page. I hate those weeks.

I write mostly at night, between the hours of 9pm and 3am. Due to my night owl tendencies, I’m a virtual zombie before 10am. Eventually, I’ll meander downstairs, take some allergy medication and a vitamin D pill (‘cause I’m too pale for sunlight), and pour myself a glass of Diet Dr. Pepper (the first one of many throughout the day). I’ll feed the (guinea) pigs and fire up my laptop. From then on, it’s just me, my button chair, and Silver.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can listen to the same song on repeat for about twelve hours straight while I’m working. I’m pretty sure that counts as a quirk. Either that, or it’s just another one of my weird OCD compulsions. Lately, it’s been a Delain song called ‘We Are The Others’. Before that, I was slightly obssessed with Nightwish’s Imaginaerum album. ‘Scaretale’ was my song of choice for at least a month.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. I never wanted a pony; I wanted a Parker fountain pen and an endless supply of paper. Plus, being a writer is the only thing saving me from changing my name to Walter. Last name: Mitty. Over the years, I’ve thought it would be neat to be a lot of things… all of which I loved for about fifteen minutes, then got bored. I’ve started (and, in several cases, not finished) so many different post-secondary degrees and courses that I’ve lost count. I’ve toyed with careers such as: evolutionary biologist, archaeologist, forensic anthropologist, canine behaviourist, paleontologist… and so on. Then, I realized that I don’t have to choose—I can be all of these things. Or rather more precisely: I can make my characters be all of these things, so that I don’t have to :)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I think it’s possible that Ella ‘Silver’ Cross might be a post-apocalyptic, more hardcore version of Xena: Warrior Princess. She’s a total badass, she’s willing to die for what she believes in, she’s not short of her own personal demons, and she’s got that whole ambiguously bisexual thing going on. (Okay, sometimes not so ambiguous). Xena might have more leather, but Silver’s got more metal. (Rifles, sub-machine guns, bazookas, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers to be precise). And there is one more thing they have in common: ultimately, her courage will change the world.

Thanks, Keira. Readers, remember to leave an e-mail with your comment if you'd like a chance at 1 of the 2 signed books being given away during this tour!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Interview with life coach Dr. Donna Lee

Today's guest, Dr. Donna Lee, is doing a virtual book tour for her new book The Spirituality Trap.

Welcome, Donna, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a professional intuitive life coach with more than eleven years’ experience. I graduated from Chiropractic school twelve years ago. Once I graduated, I realized that the body can’t heal or hold a spinal adjustment if the mind is not healthy. This discovery caused me to not pursue a chiropractic career. Instead, I chose to become a spiritual intuitive life coach and a mind body practitioner. I am a natural born intuitive and medium.

I learned so much about how human behavior affects our health by coaching thousands of clients. As I continued my practice as a coach, I learned that the only person who can get in our way is our self. We must be willing to have an honest relationship with our self and be willing to forgive and heal whatever pain or beliefs that are blocking us from becoming who we are meant to be. My professional life is dedicated to teaching clients how to stop blocking their happiness. My professional life is dedicated to helping people to learn how to get out of their own way.

Please tell us about your current release and what inspired you to write it.
I wrote The Spirituality Trap because I have had so many clients who feel that in order to be happy that they must not like who they are presently. I have seen so many people become angry and disappointed in their self because they started to look at themselves and the world in a right or wrong fashion. The way that I wrote my book was to reveal our behaviors that do not serve us. Then I stressed that having compassion for our self and others is a more helpful path to happiness. My goal was to liberate a person from non-working behavior such as judgment.

Compassion for ourselves is about allowing ourselves to feel our emotional pain then validate it so that we can make peace with past issues that have caused us pain. The sad part is that many people try to push down their emotions so that they won’t appear weak. A lot of people try to put issues that hurt them somewhere in the back of their head so that they won’t have to feel those emotions. It does not work. It actually results in more anger and a lack of compassion for our self when we do not acknowledge that we have emotional issues that have affected our happiness.

What exciting book project are you working on next?
My next book will be about relationships. My clients have been asking me to write about relationships. There are so many relationship books on the market which made me want to stay away from writing such a book. I figured that everything that needs to be said about relationships has been written. Then my intuition was pushing me to write a relationship book. It will be called “Dating while wounded, how to let get out of your way of receiving the love that you want and deserve. “I am basing the book on the common issues that my female clients have. It is a book for women. The goal is to teach self-healing through self-awareness. I am now excited for this book. I plan to have it ready to self-publish by the end of August.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? 
I did not consider myself a writer until I self-published my book. I see myself more as a messenger of self-help tools versus a writer. I feel that I am able to write only because of my coaching experience. I wish that I could write a novel or a screen play. I do feel that everyone is capable of writing as long as they write their truth and learn to be creative too. I am a part time writer. I love writing because I love sharing the information that I am learning through coaching. My clients are my greatest teachers. They remind me to stay present with the truth of life.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My writing quirk is that I always start off with a unique story that has happened to me or a general experience that occurred while coaching clients. I love to tell odd stories that will help me to motive the reader to wonder why I wrote about the story that I chose. Then I follow it up with an explanation I like to bring reality to my writing through life experiences. I want to remind readers that I am writing from personal experience.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child, I wanted to be a medical doctor because I felt that it was the best way to be of service to people. I always had viewed medical doctors as healing the sick. I had positive experiences with doctors. I admired them for being smart enough to help people get well. As I grew up, I learned that there are many ways to help people. I leaned towards more natural approaches as I went through school. I enjoy talk therapy because it gives the client a chance to have a moment of awareness through their own words. Writing became an addition to my work as a professional coach.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The one message that I would want to share with readers is that we are all such powerful people. We should not divide a person into categories that devalues them as people with a purpose. Everyone has a purpose. Our beliefs about our self do determine what we create in our life. Our beliefs inspire our actions which creates an outcome. Never devalue yourself because your world will reflect a life of no value. Always think the best thoughts about yourself but first heal whatever beliefs that are holding you back from being everything that you deserve to be.

Thanks for stopping by, Donna!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Interview with romance author Sara Brookes

Today's guest author is Sara Brookes to talk to us a bit about her writing and her newest erotic novel Chasing Sin. (Content below is PG).

Sara is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to a lucky commentor. Details below the interview.

Sara Brookes is an award-winning author who has always been fascinated by the strange, the unusual, the twisted and the lost (tortured heroes are her personal favorite). She is an action movie junkie, addicted to coffee and has been known to stay up until the wee hours of the morning playing RPG video games. Despite all this, she is a romantic at heart and is always a sucker for an excellent love story.

Welcome, Sara. Please tell us about your current release.
Chasing Sin is a contemporary erotic romance ménage (m/m/f) about three friends who chase storms. So far, that’s the thing people find most surprising – that I could combine storm chasing and erotic romance. I say how can I not? Snyder and Tripp have been together for around nine years, and they’ve been chasing storms in Tornado Alley with Kate for five. After a particularly dangerous chase that could have very easily turned fatal, they decide they aren’t going to wait any longer to tell Kate how they really feel about her. Sure, she’s reluctant but she does give in.

What inspired you to write this book?
Storm chasing, and weather in general, is something that I’ve always been fascinated by. I live on the East Coast, so hurricanes are a reality for me (I’ve been through…a lot of them—mostly Cat 1 and 2 strength). In addition to being fascinated with love stories, I love writing high-energy, high-action stories. Storm chasing seemed like a perfect avenue for just that thing.

“We’re looking at a direct hit. Almost as if we had a great big target on my roof.” Sometimes it was all about knowing your gut and he’d bet anything those instincts drove her forecast. Kate sighed heavily as she pushed away from the table. “Though I don’t think it’s going to strengthen any more. Unless I’m wrong about that too.”
Doubt was a natural part of this business and he’d seen her have it enough to know she didn’t truly believe she’d made an error. “Should I remind you that after five years of chasing together you’ve never been wrong?”
Her eyes cut to the computer. “I think in this case I wish I was.”
“Wish you were what?” Tripp’s voice, still thick with sleep, sounded behind Snyder. He pressed a quick kiss to the back of Snyder’s neck as he passed, and Snyder took a moment to admire the way his ass moved under the towel he’d slung around his hips. “Got any coffee?”
“Third cabinet on the left. Top shelf.”
Snyder watched Kate’s focus return to the laptop but he’d seen something that caused him to smile. It had been subtle, and if he hadn’t been watching her, he would have missed it completely.
But seen it he had.
That faint shimmer of those strong eyes, the flash of red on her cheeks when Tripp came up behind him and kissed his neck, was hard to simply ignore. Whatever reason had driven her out of the hotel room that night hadn’t been because of the lack of desire. The brief flare had been enough to tell him she wanted them both still.
Lucky for them, sitting around waiting for this monster to get here at the end of the week left him plenty of time to get to the bottom of things. One of the few times he was certainly going to appreciate the downtime.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have a few projects going on at the moment, most notably a follow up to one of my other m/m/f books (this one a BDSM title) Ragged Edge. Before we even finished up with edits for it last year, my editor was already asking for another book set in the same world/club. Luckily, one of the secondary characters in Ragged Edge was already talking up a storm. Adam is pretty unique, so I’m looking forward to getting to tell his story.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I found I couldn’t stop writing. I’d try to step away from a story because I thought I was done and kept thinking about it almost constantly. It still happens on occasion—I get so caught up in the story I just want to sit down and get as much out as I can so I don’t forget it all.

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 still have a desk job I enjoy (marine designer—which isn’t as boring as it sounds but it’s not as exciting as storm chasing, that’s for certain), so I have to balance it and family in order to have time to write. Sometimes it’s a complicated dance, but really it’s just a matter of juggling things in order to make it work. Luckily my family understands and my weekends are usually spent in my home office working on whatever story. About ten years ago, I always complained I never had the time to write. And then I realized, if it’s something I want to do—I had to make the time. I think that’s still true to this day. Something always has to give; you just have to decide what.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I still write in spiral notebooks. That’s right, everyone else is sitting around Starbucks with their laptops and there’s me with pen and paper. It’s a rare occasion where I will write an entire book directly on the computer. Most of the time, a good chunk of it is scribbled on out a notebook that gets carried everywhere with me (no need to worry about battery life or finding an outlet!). I have a bin in my office where I keep those notebooks when I’ve completed a story too. Why yes, I am a packrat. LOL

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Oh let’s see – a crossing guard, a drafter, a police officer, an astronaut, a firewoman and a mom. Yup, I didn’t just want to be one of those things—I wanted it all. Greediness aside, I did become two of those things. A mom and a designer (they don’t call us drafters anymore).

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I just completed my first 5K in May. I’m still wondering what sort of crazy took over my head the day I signed up.

Wow, Sara, you definitely have variety in your life! Thank you for stopping by today and sharing a bit about yourself with us.  (I just ran my first 5K in April, so know what you mean!)

Readers, Sara is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commentor. I encourage you to follow the tour and comment. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. Remember to leave your e-mail address if you'd like to be entered. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Live chat/interview with C. Hope Clark of FundsForWriters

The Writer's Chatroom presents C. Hope Clark of


Sunday, June 24, 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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Please note: The chatroom is only open for regularly scheduled chats.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Interview with fantasy author Susan Noble

Today's guest is fantasy author Susan Noble. She's talking about her novel Summoned: Book 1 of The Elemental. She's also offering a $15 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commentor during this virtual book tour. Details after the interview.

Susan Leigh Noble has always loved dragons and magic so it is no wonder that she became an author of fantasy novels. As a cat lover, she also threw a telepathic cat into the mix for her The Elemental Series. The first two books, Summoned and Quietus, have already been released in e-book format. She is currently working on the third and final chapter of the trilogy.
When she isn’t writing, Susan is an active volunteer in her neighborhood and at her children’s schools. She lives with her husband, two children and three cats in Texas.
She loves to hear from readers:
Check out her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter, or visit her author website.

Welcome, Susan. Please tell us about your current release.
Summoned takes place in a world where two types of magic - one that used spells and a natural form where the user had control of the elements - used to exist but died out long ago. At the age of four, Lina learns she has the power to start fires with a mere thought just like the Elementals from the past. Now at the age of eighteen, a strange, mystical compulsion overwhelms her and forces her to leave her homeland. She must travel north to find out what or who is summoning her. As she travels and encounters mythical creatures that haven’t existed in centuries, she must accept that someone is using spell magic against her. When she discovers the truth, it changes her life in ways she could never imagine.

Blurb for Summoned:
Lina wants an ordinary life in the Grasslands of Zena. But she isn’t ordinary at all. At the age of four, she discovered she could start fires with a mere thought - an ability believed to have died out long ago. Cautioned by her telepathic cat, Tosh, she keeps this Elemental power a secret in fear of how the outside world would react. There is something else different about Lina - she feels a strange force compelling her to go north.
Before she can decide whether to give into this mysterious urge, she is kidnapped by gypsies and wakes in a foreign land. The desire to travel north is as strong as ever. When a strange raging fire prevents her return home, Lina realizes she must find out once and for all what or who is summoning her.

On her journey, she befriends an odd assortment of allies including the son of a High Council member, a thief, a former guardsman and a large sarcastic black dragon. Together they battle mystical creatures and unnatural forces, although such magic had ceased to exist over 800 years ago.  During each battle, Lina must use her innate Elemental power as she becomes more certain that someone is using magic against her. When she discovers the shocking truth, it will change her life in ways she could never imagine.

Excerpt from Summoned - Battle:
Then he saw one of the men break away from the battle. His sword held ready, the man set his horse directly toward them. Tosh lashed his tail angrily against the saddle. He had succeeded in getting her out of the danger of the initial attack but that lone rider would soon be upon them, and Lina had no weapon. He considered his options. He only saw one clear choice. He lifted his paw, claws outstretched.

Lina, hold on.

He prepared to slash the mare again, but as he raised his paw, he caught a glimpse of her face. She was staring intently at the man racing toward them. Her face held a determined look as the wind began to blow her hair. The long honey-colored locks whipped around her face as the wind began to blow harder.  The force was so strong Tosh had to dig his claws into the saddle in order to stay on the mare. He whirled around in time to see the full force of Lina’s gust of wind hit the attacker. The man fell backward, his arms outstretched as if to grab the saddle. But his fingers missed and continued backward. Then Tosh heard the sickening sound of the man’s head hitting his horse’s rear hoof. The man hit the ground with a deadening thud and lay motionless. Lina cringed, a look of shock on her face. 

“I didn’t mean...” she whispered in a sick voice. Her eyes had a haunted look, and she shook her head slightly as if in disbelief over what had happened.

You had to stop him, Lina. He leaned against her, tucking his head into the crook of her arm.
Lina hung her head down. Her honey-colored hair fell around him like a curtain. “But I only meant to stop him.” She stared at the motionless man before her. “Not to kill him.”

What inspired you to write this book?
I have always loved reading fantasy novels, and I began thinking of writing my own when I got this idea in my head about a young woman being drawn away from the life she knew by a mysterious force. The more I thought about it, the more the story just began to develop.  

What exciting story are you working on next?
Currently, I am writing the conclusion to “The Elemental” trilogy. Book 3 (still unnamed) will wrap up Lina & Val’s story as both Lina’s powers and Val’s new-found magic will continue to grow and of course play an important role in concluding the series. The antagonist from Quietus (Book 2) will return with a vengeance and there will be all sorts of battles, including one involving the dragons.    

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess back in high school is when I first considered myself a writer. I wrote for the high school newspaper and later my college paper. My favorite area to write was in-depth features. It was after college that I decide to give writing a book a try.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your workday like?  If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
As a stay-at-home mom, I wish I could write full time but my days are filled with taking care of my four-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son. I try to make sure I volunteer at their schools, and of course, my son has music and karate classes. My real writing time comes early in the morning before anyone is awake or the few hours that they both are in school since my daughter only goes to preschool half days right now.    

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I actually enjoy doing some of my writing longhand. I know in today’s world with so much technology that this probably isn’t done much, but I keep a notebook with me and use the time waiting for the kids to jot down ideas or even start scenes. Sometimes I will actually combine two of my favorite things - writing and watching the San Antonio Spurs play basketball.  

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember wanting to be a teacher for a while but truthfully, I have always enjoyed writing and wanted to become a journalist. In fact, I have a degree in Journalism, though I haven’t worked for a newspaper in many, many years. Life has taken me in a different direction.  

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I have enjoyed writing these novels and hope that they enjoy reading them. 

Thanks for stopping by, Susan.

Readers, Susan will award a $15 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Leave your e-mail address with a comment here, and follow her tour and comment at other stops for more chances to win.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Interview with novelist Robert B. Lowe

Mystery novelist Robert B. Lowe is here today. We're just one stop along his virtual book tour for Project Moses – A Mystery Thriller. There's a $10 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commentor at the end of the tour. Details are after the interview.

Robert B. Lowe is a Pulitzer-prize winning author whose fiction is based in San Francisco, his adopted home.

His past experiences – a 12-year career in investigative journalism and a Harvard Law School degree – enable him to write gripping mystery thrillers in both the legal and journalistic fields. Lowe draws his inspiration from John Grisham, Dick Francis and Lee Child and adds his own San Francisco twist. Readers will enjoy his references to the city’s landmarks such as Chinatown, North Beach, and Pacific Heights and the Bay area’s foodie culture.

When Lowe isn’t writing he enjoys a day at the golf course and spending time with his wife and daughters.

Welcome, Bob. Please tell us about your current release.
Project Moses is a high-tech bioterrorism thriller in the Grisham mode that has been well received by Kirkus Reviews and readers at Good Reads, B&N, and Kindle (4.7 stars based on 23 reviews as of May 3).

Kirkus Reviews called Project Moses: “A thriller with an ideal fusion of wile and wit.”

Enzo Lee, 37, a burned out reporter, has forsaken investigative reporting on the East Coast to churn out feature fluff in San Francisco. He likes his North Beach apartment, steps away from his Chinatown roots. Running, tai chi, great food, women who are attracted to his exotic looks. Life is good.

Then, Lee is ordered to cover the unexplained deaths of a local judge and prosecutor. Intrigued by the connection, and the judge’s attractive niece, Sarah Armstrong, Lee begins to uncover a bioterrorism scandal whose perpetrators - including government officials and Silicon Valley titans - will kill to conceal.

When Lee and Sarah become targets, the question becomes whether the pair can evade their hunters and piece together the story before their time runs out. Project Moses is set in San Francisco, New York and Silicon Valley.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was an investigative reporter for 12 years and a lifelong fan of mysteries and thrillers. Having written journalistically for a living and loving the genre, I always wanted to try my own hand at it myself and finally had a chance. 

The main conspiracy centers on a bioterrorism theme.  I’ve long been interested in issues related to genetics and genetic engineering and those interests led to the conspiracy in the book. 

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a second mystery involving many of the same characters and set in San Francisco. The themes are ones that are natural for San Francisco and the novel will mix suspense, humor and romance like the Project Moses does.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Out of college, my first jobs were writing for newspapers. Certainly, a big part of what you do in that role is to sit down every day and pound the keys producing words to appear in a newspaper or on a website. On some days, the job might be pure writing. On others, pure research. But, I clearly considered myself a writer at that stage.

It is a lot different to write a book and to devote 4-6 hours daily for 3 months or longer to produce it. The challenges are greater from a pure writing standpoint. And, when you’re creating characters, the challenge of making them believable and thinking through human motivation and ways of talking are daunting. Doing that and developing a story that is compelling and tight is what moves you into the “novelist” category, I think.      

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like?  If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do have the luxury at present of writing full time. My basic mode is to be at the keyboard in an environment free from distractions at 9 am and work until lunch time. Most days, I keep working after lunch for at least a couple of hours. For me, a reasonable goal is 1,000 words a day. Sometimes I’m struggling and don’t make that. On other days, I know where everything is going and can do much more. I’m also revising and editing constantly so that pace keeps me moving forward.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m finding that what often works when I begin a chapter or section is to write an opening and then take the second or third paragraph and make that the first. It’s just a different, less linear way in and can be a nice twist.  It also speeds things up a bit and in the mystery-thriller genre, I think you need to keep a fast pace. 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I recall wanting to be a baseball player and, at some point, sincerely believing that I would be President. My goals became more modest after that.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
When I wrote Project Moses, I had in mind more of a fast-paced thriller with a global-sized plot. But, many of my readers have really enjoyed the characters and I have to admit that I enjoyed fleshing them out more than I expected. So, somewhat by popular demand, I’m continuing to develop them and it’s interesting to let them run and see what happens.

Thanks, Robert.

Readers, Robert is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter at the close of the tour. So, leave your e-mail address with your comment if you'd like a chance to win. And to increase your odds, you can follow Robert's tour and comment at other stops. More comments = more chances to win!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Interview with contemporary novelist Lauren Clark

Today's Reviews and Interviews guest is novelist Lauren Clark. She's doing a virtual book tour for her newest novel, Dancing Naked in Dixie.

There are details below the interview about a giveaway she's offering during her tour. Check it out!

Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets.

A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends.

Welcome, Lauren. Please tell us about your current release.
Dancing Naked in Dixie is about New York City travel writer Julia Sullivan. She comes back from an assignment in Italy, meets her new boss, and is told that she's on the verge of being fired because she's missed a few deadlines and has become careless with her stories.

She's offered one last chance to rescue her career and embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage. Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage? 

What inspired you to write this book?
I generally start with a 'what if' question and a location that I'd like to write about. For example, the question for Stay Tuned, set in Macon, Georgia, was "What if two anchors fist-fight on a live television show?" For Dancing Naked in Dixie, my question was "What if a big city travel writer will lose her job unless she goes to the small-town Deep South to cover a story?" I had lived near Eufaula, Alabama and attended the Pilgrimage, so I knew that setting would work perfectly.

There are many novels about a character excited about moving to a big city or traveling to Paris or London, but Dixie follows a big city girl who visits a very small town. At the outset, she doesn’t want to go—in fact, she throws a hissy fit about it! She’s really a fish out of water—the accents, the food, and the mannerisms are all foreign to her.

I think we’re all somewhat guilty of having preconceived notions or ideas about people and places we haven’t visited. The fun of this storyline involves Julia discovering how wrong she was about the Deep South. It’s a life-changing experience for her. It’s my hope that readers feel that Dixie honors and celebrates cultural differences.        

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am researching for my next novel, The Pie Lab, which is a real restaurant in Greensboro, Alabama. This story will follow a girl who’s gone off to a big city (like Atlanta or New York) and vows NEVER to come home. She’s forced to return to Greensboro, though, when her romantic relationship falls apart. Since she’s burned a lot of bridges, it will be interesting to see how she makes amends. The Pie Lab, as a business, is a great concept, as it offers on-the-job training and the owners are very active in the community. Added bonus…the pies are delicious! The Pie Lab has been featured in Southern Living and The New York Times.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After Stay Tuned was published and I received my very own paperback copy in the mail. During my two free days on Amazon, Stay Tuned was downloaded 24,000 times in the US and UK. That also made it feel legitimate and 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?
When I'm working hard to finish a book, I disappear into the library at a nearby university. I find an empty classroom and park myself there for several hours with a cup of coffee (yes, they allow drinks with lids!). It's ideal because it is so quiet and the only place that I can't log onto the Internet because I don't have the school password. I also wear my yoga clothes in case I decide to go to class or Pure Barre on the way home. No makeup. Hair in a ponytail. I rush home by 3 pm when school lets out and resume mom-duties: Homework, Finding Snacks, Dinner, Laundry, Cleaning, Paying Bills, and Scheduling Play Dates.

Every day, I also try to spend a few minutes on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, and my website. I love connecting with readers and other authors. There's also an amazing, supportive group of bloggers out there who've supported Stay Tuned and Dancing Naked in Dixie. I am forever indebted to each and every one of them!

I find time to write by making it a priority. Writing works best for me in the morning...when I am out of the house. I outline first, then go chapter by chapter. I set a goal of at least one thousand words a day. That said, I try to take weekends off so that I can spend time with my husband and children. We like to be outdoors, go to the beach, and ride bicycles. We also try to give back to the community. Right now, we're involved in "Food for Thought," which helps elementary schools plant and grow vegetable and herb gardens. The goal is to teach about nutrition and fight childhood obesity at the same time. We get pretty dirty, but it's lots of fun!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Three things are must-haves for me: I need absolute quiet, coffee, and my novel's outline.  Without those, I'm sleepy, distracted, and my writing goes every which way!!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Oh, I told my parents that I wanted to be an Indian Princess and that my name was going to be Tiger Lily. That didn’t happen, so I tease my two boys that I have a secret identity—Super Mommy to the Rescue—pink boots, pink cape, you get the idea. They haven’t bought that, either.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I'm an avid reader, I love books, and try to support my fellow authors and promote their work. I do have a special place in my heart for Chick Lit, though. The genre allows an author to have the freedom of having a quirky character who's not perfect. I also believe that a good heroine should be a strong person--on her own. She doesn't need a man to swoop in and solve all of her problems. She's smart, but makes mistakes and learns as she goes. She's a woman who defines her own future.

Thank you for supporting my novels. It's such a joy to get an e-mail from a reader, a nice review, or a note from a Facebook friend saying he or she liked my book or a certain character. There is no better feeling!

Here's an excerpt from Dancing Naked in Dixie:
The Best Butts in Alabama, the huge billboard above my head brags. A robust pink pig, dressed in blue overalls and a cowboy hat, winks down at me. Next to the hog’s turned up nose, royal blue letters read ‘Phil’s Bar-B-Q.’ 

Phil certainly knows how to make a first impression. As does Mother Nature.

The sunshine beats down on my shoulder through the window. Is it always this muggy in December? I swipe at my forehead with the back of my hand and do quick surveillance.

Where is the historic, elegant city I was promised in the letter? There is a normal-looking church across the street, a run-of-the-mill real estate business to my right, and a tiny hole-in-the-wall place called The Donut King, which seems to be doing ten times more business than the Winn-Dixie grocery store I just passed.

So far, all I see of Eufaula, Alabama is more in-your-face commercial than traveler chic. Of course, I’m not in the best frame of mind to become one with my surroundings.

After a lousy Thursday morning of sulking and a rushed packing job, I sent an RSVP with regrets for the fundraiser, gave away my tickets to the Met, left a voice mail for Andrew, and changed my ticket to an earlier departure.

Hours later, after fighting through JFK security, surviving the cramped flight to Atlanta, I spent the night in Buckhead, Georgia, picked up my enormous rented SUV this morning (it was either that or a red minivan), and began driving the three-and-a-half hours to reach my pinhole-on-a-map destination.

All to save my job.

Thanks for talking with us today, Lauren.

Readers, Lauren will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commentor during the tour. So comment below, and then you can follow the tour and comment. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning.