Friday, November 29, 2013

Interview with sci-fi fantasy author Karen Fainges

Today’s guest is sci-fi/fantasy author Karen Fainges. She’s chatting a bit about herself and her novel, Book 1 of the Shaytonian Chronicles - Destiny Sets.

Karen has some giveaways during her tour, including: a 3 pack of e-books Shaytonian Chronicles Book 1-3; a 3-pack of paperback Shaytonian Chronicles Book 1-3 (Signed if willing to wait for post from Australia or from Amazon if not). Use the form below to enter.

Born in Lismore NSW, a rev head/surfer, dairy town, Karen Fainges moved to Nimbin at the tender age of six to learn the ups and downs of living in a hippie based economy, and moved again to Coonabarabran - rural, wear your hat if you are going into town, set your watch back, type of place.

She learnt all about culture shock and is sure her desire to write a world of her own came from all that moving around. Here was one world that followed the rules. Except...she never was too good at following rules. And neither are her characters.

Story telling was a part of life, whether it was reading books or sitting around a camp fire, her happiest times were spent lifting on the clouds of words into the worlds above. Fairies, aliens, westerns, historical, it didn't really matter. Anything that showed the world through different eye

Welcome, Karen. Please tell us about your current release.
Destiny Sets tells of a vampiric slave race that escaped their masters to hide between dimensions. Together they create a perfect being to save them all.

The Fates have other ideas.

An irreverant stab at old B movies where a race of women capture men to breed.

What inspired you to write this book?
As a child, I found that if it was too hot to play, stories kept my younger sister and cousin interested. Later, I went on to create a way more adult version of those tales of shapechanging, aliens.

Lightning sears a scene against the eye. Trapped between reality and death, every scrap of life is fighting for existence. To stop fighting is to die. Some precious moments of peace can be stolen from small pockets of calm. Life can take a breath and wonder at the harsh beauty. But only for a moment, then struggle resumes. And others watch. The Shayton Chronicles begins in Destiny Sets, the story of one man. He is that drop of chaos that can spell success or failure. Born from a vampiric race of slaves, genetically moulded to provide comfort for their masters, he alone decides to be truly free. Irreverent humour and a fierce need to know 'why', war within him and entire worlds are changed. "The Stainless Steel Rat with fangs."

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently working on two books. The first is Book 4 of the Chronicles. The second is a sequel to my humour book, Can You Smell Burning tentatively entitled My breeze smells like dog spit.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The first time I got paid for it which was some academic writing.

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 work for myself as a computer trainer, so some days will be all writing, some students, some avoiding housework. I bought a donger, which is a shipping container fitted out with air conditioning and power. It is my Mummy Mansion and I can sneak in there and write. We also have a computer in the lounge so I can write and still be with the family. Last but not least, there is our local coffee shop and my trustee tablet. You know, with all these ways to write, you think I would do it a lot more.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to run the scenes through in my mind first in full 3D-Karenvision to make sure they work.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Dolphin trainer, astronaut, professional mattress and chocolate tester, rollercoaster engineer, circus trainer, dog whisperer, the lot really. So lucky I am a writer, I can do all of it.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Smile, it drives them crazy wondering what you are thinking about.

Thanks, Karen!

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Interview with author Frances Pauli

Today’s guest is author Frances Pauli and is focused on the first book in her Princes of the Shroud series, Shrouded.

Frances is giving away an e-copy of the book to a lucky commenter (who uses the form below) during her virtual book tour. Feel free to visit other tour stops between now and December 6th and enter for chances to win there, too!

Frances Pauli writes speculative fiction, usually with touches of humor or romance, which means, of course, that she has trouble choosing sides.

She's always been a fan of things outside the box, odd, weird or unusual, and that trend follows through to her tales which feature aliens, fairies, and even, on occasion, an assortment of humans.

More information on her work and upcoming releases can be found on her website.

Welcome, Frances. Please tell us about your current release.
Shrouded kicks off a series about a race of aliens who have made their home on the planet Shroud, a veiled world with almost no outside contact. Their culture revolves around their dense, protective atmosphere and the sacred crystal that they use to find and bond with their ideal mates. When the selection process is tampered with, the Shrouded throne and the safety of the whole planet are put in jeopardy.

What inspired you to write this book?
A discussion on planetary science. I’m a pretty big fan of space, and of getting humans into it as soon and as often as possible. I can’t remember where the idea of this heavy, veiled atmosphere sprouted from, but as soon as I worked out that it was possible, then I started to imagine the people who would make their home underneath it, the technology they’d use, and the reasons they might choose to remain secluded. The Shrouded spawned on their own from there, and their stories are still unfolding along the way.


“I think they’re going to torture us and feed us to something,” Tarren hissed.

“What was that?” Murrel asked.

Vashia stared down the ramp. She took a step forward, and they both followed her. “Nothing, Murrel. It’s going to be fine.” She ignored Tarren’s snort and took another step. The girls that left ahead of them pooled in a bunch around Madame Nerala. They fidgeted and shifted from foot to foot, but the whispers stilled.

The three of them were last to leave the ship. Vashia led the way out into the hangar. The ship a few bays down fired up, drowning out whatever Nerala said to them in a roar of engines. The women moved closer, pressed up beside their newest caretaker and waited for instructions.

The sleds followed the floor lighting between the freighters, weaving toward their individual destinations. Vashia took a step to the side and let Tarren and Murrel squeeze in beside her. She leaned out around the butt of their ship and watched the tunnel where the majority of the cargo seemed to end up. The departing ship’s engines faded as it returned to orbit. Its absence made the regular hangar sounds seem quiet.

“There we go,” Madame Nerala purred. “Now, we’ll head through the atrium and get your rooms assigned. I think you’ll find them comfortable for the short stay. Oh!” Her hands clapped to her mouth and all fourteen bride candidates jumped in place. She waved them to calm with one hand, but the other busily straightened her hair. She stood taller, cast nervous glances to their right.

Vashia followed her gaze and caught her first glimpse of the Shrouded. Two men stalked across the hangar, and she had no doubt at all as to their race. They had to be Shrouded. They couldn’t be anything less. Her jaw dropped open.

“What is it?” Murrel whispered.

Before Vashia could answer, static exploded inside her brain.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I just finished the zero draft of Seen, Princes of the Shroud book two. It features the Seer character from book one and a new race of shape-shifting aliens at war with their technology obsessed cousins. Taking the Princes off of their safe little home world was a lot of fun.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After I finished my first novel. I had begun many projects before that, but finishing was something I didn’t know I could pull off. Once that happened, I knew I was never going back.

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 am a stay at home mom and I home school my two children. That being said, I write full time in the sense that I don’t have another outside job. I write as much and as often as possible, and always have a book in the works. That’s about as full time as I can get around the rest of my crazy. I make time to write. That’s the only real way to find time. And I don’t do idle. If I’m not busy with kids and school, I’m writing nine times out of ten. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Aside from having a panic attack at about 35,000 words (every book, I swear) I eat a lot of wasabi peas while writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a zoologist. Actually, I wanted Marlin Perkins’ job. (Part of me still does)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
A huge thank you for being readers, for loving books and making it possible for authors to tell stories and keep reading around as long as possible.

Ways to connect: 

Buy links:

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Interview with paranormal romance author Tori Ridgewood

Today’s guest is paranormal romance author Tori L. Ridgewood who is sharing a little about herself and her new novel Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy.

After her first heartbreak, Tori found solace in two things: reading romance novels and listening to an after-dark radio program called Lovers and Other Strangers. Throughout the summer and fall of 1990, the new kid in town found reading fiction and writing her own short stories gave her a much needed creative outlet. Determined to become a published author, Tori amassed stacks of notebooks and boxes of filed-away stories, most only half-finished before another idea would overtake her and demand to be written down. Then, while on parental leave with her second baby, one story formed and refused to be packed away. Between teaching full-time, parenting, and life in general, it would take almost seven years before the first novel in her first trilogy would be completed. In the process, Tori finally found her stride as a writer.

At present, on her off-time, Tori not only enjoys reading, but also listening to an eclectic mix of music as she walks the family dog (Skittles), attempts to turn her thumb green, or makes needlework gifts for her friends and family members. She loves to travel, collect, and make miniature furniture, and a good cup of tea during a thunderstorm or a blizzard. Under it all, she is always intrigued by history, the supernatural, vampire, and shapeshifter mythology, romance, and other dangers.

Tori is currently working on Crystal and Wand: Book Three of The Talbot Trilogy. She lives in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two children. She is a full-time teacher at a local high school.

Welcome, Tori. Please tell us about your current release.
Wind and Shadow is a paranormal romance about a good witch and a malevolent vampire. Petite and red-headed Rayvin Woods, a photographer by trade, has always been able to do magick but has hidden her abilities from the world, trying to live a normal life. After a series of misadventures, she is forced to return to her hometown in northeastern Ontario, arriving at the same time that the bloodthirsty and evil Malcolm de Sade breaks free of his prison in a collapsed mine under the main street. His plan, after a year of being trapped underground, is to create a trap for another witch he obsesses over, a married artist named Charlotte Fanning Mahonen who is away on her honeymoon when he escapes. De Sade wants to use the people of the town to create his coven in order to capture Charlotte and kill her husband when she returns. Soon, Rayvin finds herself also a target of de Sade’s plans, but at least she is able to fight back. She looks to policeman Grant Michaels for help, though it’s difficult to convince him and to ignore her growing attraction to the tall, dark, and handsome man, her former high school crush.

Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogyfollows the novella, “Mist and Midnight”, which was published as part of the Midnight Thirsts anthology in 2011 by Melange Books and is now available as a single. The trilogy as a whole is set in the fictional town of Talbot, Ontario, located near the non-fiction body of water called Lake Temiskaming, close to the Ontario-Quebec border. The protagonists of “Mist and Midnight”, Charlotte and Pike Mahonen, appear briefly in Wind and Shadow but will have a stronger presence and role in Book Two: Blood and Fire (due for release in February 2014) and Book Three: Crystal and Wand (due for release in June 2014).

What inspired you to write this book?
Much of Wind and Shadow came from a combination of my movie-buff tendencies, my love for the paranormal, and a place where I lived as an adolescent.

Firstly, part of my impetus for writing this trilogy is as a response to Twilight.  I’m a big fan of the Twilight Saga, both books and films, but at the same time, I can pick it apart and talk about problems I see in it.  So as Wind and Shadow developed, I began to see it as my answer to Stephenie Meyers.  A kind of argument, if you will. I’m also a huge admirer of the film “Practical Magic” and the book on which is was based, written by Alice Hoffman. My witches are rather reflective of Sally and Gillian Owens and their abilities. There’s a terrific Showcase series that I follow as well, called “Lost Girl”, which involves a host of supernatural characters, and a lot of my work in Wind and Shadow and the rest of the trilogy was inspired by that show.

The paranormal has always fascinated me, but I remember a turning point when I first read Stephen King’s vampire horror novel Salem’s Lot, around the time I was 10 or 11 years old. After reading that one and sleeping with the lights on for a few nights, I devoured any vampire fiction or film I could get my hands on, as well as ghost stories, sightings of creatures like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot, and alien encounters. If I had been better at math, I might have gone into paranormal investigations rather than becoming a teacher! But the fiction had my heart -- books like the original Dracula by Bram Stoker, Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice, and movies such as “John Carpenter’s Vampires”, “The Lost Boys”, “Thirty Days of Night”, “Blade”, “Underworld”, “Daybreakers” -- I can’t get enough of them. In a lot of ways, I feel that Wind and Shadow and the subsequent novels are my homage to my favourite vampire writers.

Finally, the story in Wind and Shadow came about sometime between moving back up to northeastern Ontario with my husband, and the birth of our second child. Coming back to one of the regions I loved as a child, living relatively close to my favourite towns, Haileybury and Cobalt, reminded me of an incident back then when an old abandoned mine under Cobalt had collapsed and left a massive hole in the street, right downtown.  It prompted a thorough investigation and survey of all the abandoned mines threading underneath the town and around it, and for the brief interval between the collapse and the fix, it was a tourist attraction as the world’s largest pothole!  So, twenty-five-odd years after that event, I kept thinking: what if there was more to it than that? What if the collapse wasn’t (just) due to water seepage in an old mine? What if there was some kind of creature down there, like a vampire? If so, how did it get down there? What is the history?  Who was affected by it?  I began writing notes on the idea after my daughter was born, slowly building the story. I’m very happy with how it’s turning out, too.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on the third book in the trilogy, Crystal and Wand, as well as wrapping up edits on the second book, Blood and Fire.

In Crystal and Wand, the allies of the Light (Rayvin, Grant, Charlotte, Pike, and a few new characters I introduce in B&F, professional vampire hunters Marcy and Siobhan) are preparing for the final showdown with the vampire coven as it spreads its poison and threatens the entire community of Talbot, and beyond. I would love for the third book to be epic, but at the same time, I worry about disappointing my original vision and my readers. Hopefully, it will be as enjoyable and satisfactory as the first two books have been.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Only very recently, when Wind and Shadow was actually released. I was writing very short stories as soon as I was able to print. My mother has a clipping of a Christmas story I wrote, printed in a local newspaper, when I was in kindergarten. And I contributed stories to school anthologies as a youth and a teen, as well as writing regularly for the community newspaper’s school page while I was in high school. But even while I was getting short stories and my novella published in 2011 and 2012, I didn’t yet consider myself a writer. That may be due to my own issues with anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. Having my first full novel come out was the fulfillment of a dream I’ve had since I was eleven or twelve years old, so I think that has made the difference, but there are still many days when I have to say it aloud in order to believe it. I am a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am a full-time high school teacher, so I work writing into my vacation time for the most part, as well as intensive writing periods in the fall and the spring (when I’m not doing all the things that a mom does). I joined NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2011, and that made a huge difference in my ability to complete projects relatively quickly.

My work day typically starts around 8:30, when I arrive at the school. (Note: I used to get there at 7:30, about ten years ago when my first child was a toddler and my husband stayed home with him during the day, and worked as a chef in the evenings. As soon as my second child is able to get herself to school, I will likely start my days earlier again.) When I get to the building and have de-snowed (most of the school year is pretty cold and/or wet), I often have a first-period class to get ready immediately. Sometimes this involves last-minute photocopying, but during good weeks, I’ve gotten my lesson plans ready the day before. I’ll check my work email, set up instructions on the board, and often pull up on the projector a few interesting headlines from or another news / media site to share with the students and discuss. My classes run 72 minutes in length. This year, I have two in the morning, and after lunch, one in the afternoon.

During classes, my strategies run the gamut from straight lecture of 20-30 minutes to all-student-centred research or writing, depending on the group of students, the material, and the schedule. In general, though, I explain concepts, go over instructions, engage them in determining the learning goals and success criteria (with the overall objective being the students taking ownership of their learning), and then I circulate to help, give feedback, and keep kids on task.

At lunch, I’m either playing Candycrush or reading while I’m eating. A few lunch hours involve student meetings for extracurricular activities, like Anime Club, the Gay-Straight Alliance, or play rehearsals (I’m supervising this year rather than directing -- a bit of a relief). I do some prep as well, once I’ve had some down time. I find I have to decompress a little during my spare period as well, unless I’m covering someone else’s class or doing hall monitoring. My prep period also helps me to keep up on planning, marking, and phone calls. The days generally pass very quickly.

When I get home, in past years I’ve tended to crash, though my health is improving this year and it’s getting easier to keep going. That’s when I get to my writing, though the most is done after the children are in bed and the house is quiet. I’m a night owl -- I love it when there are no distractions, when the house is cocooned and there is nothing to watch on TV, as it forces me to redirect my focus. I will write until midnight, or later if I don’t have school the next day. However, these intensive periods take their toll. It’s partway through November now, and I know that once NaNoWriMo is over, I will hit a wall. These past 20 days, I’ve averaged about 2,000 words a day in my off-time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love my ellipses! To me, that little sequence of periods is like a breath in a piece of music, a pause in the train of thought, an extra space of time in which one considers an idea or slows down to rephrase the words about to be spoken. Some writers and readers supremely dislike them . . . but I find them to be an essential part of conversation, thought, and character-narrative.

I also love including parentheses in my writing, because that’s how I think. I have what I like to call “Squirrel!” moments (thank you, “Up!”), in which I have a side thought that, if it were written, would be in brackets.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
In the summer, when I was trying to declutter my house, I found some journals from when I was thirteen in which I wrote that I wanted to be a published author. But I also wanted to be a professional actor (still do!), a paranormal investigator (still lots of time), and a meteorologist -- I had a childhood fascination with tornadoes, hurricanes, clouds, and weather phenomenon in general.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m hoping in the near future, once the Talbot Trilogy is done, to work on an anthology of stories or a few novels that take place in a fictional town based on where I live. I’m interested in doing more erotica, as well as writing completely non-erotic YA novels. With that in mind, I don’t mind sharing that I write under a pseudonym, and will likely adopt a different name for YA fiction, eventually. My nom-de-plume actually helps me to be more creative, and it feels like an alternate expression of my self. For example, at home I am Mom and Mommy; at work I am Mrs., to my parents I am my childhood nickname, and to my husband and various friends I am another variation of that name. My pen-name is simply a different facet of my personality, and I have found that it frees me in a way that writing just as myself hasn’t been able to do.

Thanks so much for having me on Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews!

My pleasure. Thank you for joining my blog!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Guest post from YA sci-fi author Mark Diehl

Today's guest is the author of YA sci-fi dystopian novels. He is sharing some writing tips with you in "5 Musts Every Story in Your Genre Should Have."

He's also going to be giving away a $50 Amazon or gift card to a lucky commenter (who uses the form below) during his tour. If you'd like to increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops between now and January 3, 2014, and enter there, too!

Author information:
Mark D. Diehl writes novels about power dynamics and the way people and organizations influence each other. He believes that obedience and conformity are becoming humanity’s most important survival skills, and that we are thus evolving into a corporate species.
Diehl has: been homeless in Japan, practiced law with a major multinational firm in Chicago, studied in Singapore, fled South Korea as a fugitive, and been stranded in Hong Kong.
After spending most of his youth running around with hoods and thugs, he eventually earned his doctorate in law at the University of Iowa and did graduate work in creative writing at the University of Chicago. He currently lives and writes in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Blurb about Seventeen:  
Most of the world's seventeen billion people are unconscious, perpetually serving their employers as part of massive brain trusts. The ecosystem has collapsed, and corporations control all of the world's resources and governments. A bedraggled alcoholic known as the Prophet predicts nineteen year-old waitress Eadie will lead a revolution, but how can she prevail when hunted by a giant corporation and the Federal Angels it directs?

Excerpt from Seventeen:

The mist was clearing. Brian found himself standing in the street outside the bar he had entered earlier. Half a dozen battered and bleeding men stood surrounding him, and at least as many more lay on the gravel, seriously wounded or out cold.

The attack had come from somewhere in the mist, from all directions at once. His head and torso ached and throbbed. He locked his shaking knees to keep them from buckling. Every muscle in his body seemed to be lengthening, pouring downward like water. His eyelids drooped.

One of the standing men took a step toward him, fists raised. Brian tried to turn away from him, his arm flopping behind his back like a fish.

Behind his back! His eyes opened a little wider. He straightened and forced his arm to function, whipping out his revolver and aiming it around at the circle of attackers.

He tried to pull back the hammer but too many of his knuckles were broken. He ended up simply pointing it at the closest one, who backed away cautiously. Once past him, Brian walked backwards, still aiming the gun as long as he could see them. Then he turned, moving as fast as he could manage, back toward Dok’s place.

5 Musts Every Story in Your Genre Should Have
by Mark Diehl
1.   If you’re writing a story about individuals struggling against oppression, you need to have more than just those people and an oppressive government. We’ve learned too much since 1948 for anyone to find a story like that realistic anymore. Concentrated power is as dangerous as ever, but now that power is held by multinational corporations acting THROUGH government.
2.   You need outlier characters who struggle against the collective society, but you also have to make sure they don’t appear to be part of the norm in that culture. Without these characters, the book would be boring and tedious, as readers simply followed along with everyone doing what they’re told, when they’re told to do it. If your independent characters don’t seem rare enough, though, your readers will miss out on the feeling of stifling conformity that will clearly be the backdrop of our corporate future.
3.   Accept that the world is running out of resources. If you have a book set in the future where average people are still driving cars, eating food grown on farms, and drinking clean water from the tap, your world is not believable. The environment is being destroyed, as well. If you set your futuristic story in a world where people can breathe the air or walk in the rain without consequences, your world is not believable.
4.   Do not make the mistake of assuming the West is ahead of the rest of the world because our culture gives us “freedom.” We do not have an economic advantage because we are free. We are free because we have an economic advantage. The liberty we have now is a lingering effect of the temporary bulge in the upper class that resulted from the Industrial Revolution, which gave ordinary citizens more power in society than ever before. As the world’s resources are depleted, the middle class will disappear again. What we think of as freedom will be revealed as fleeting economic power and will vanish along with it. The future is not one of personal liberty for everyone around the world; it is a global society of suffocating corporate compliance.
5.   Remember that a “more advanced” society is not necessarily one in which you would prefer to live. The term means only that the society is better adapted to the conditions that will be more prevalent in the future. Our descendants will face life on a planet whose resources have been plundered; theirs will be a world with a ruined ecosystem, toxic air and water, and extreme disparity of wealth and power. Why would anyone think that’s not going to be awful? 
Author’s Website:

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Book excerpt from Vault of Secrets by Hawk MacKinney

This is an excerpt for Vault of Secrets, Book 2 in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series by Hawk MacKinney.

A $20 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter. So, to be entered for a chance to win, leave a comment below. And to increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops and leave comments there, too. 

Vault of Secrets is a compelling tale of intrigue, murder, deception and redemption that leads retired Navy SEAL/part-time private investigator Craige Ingram in search of the connection between seemingly random murders and a banking conspiracy. Working with the local homicide investigator, who just happens to be a former Navy buddy, Craige Ingram's attempts to protect a lonely widow and solve the case before another person dies are only thwarted by a psychotic killer whose motivation is based on pure pleasure. The instincts and skills Ingram and his buddy acquired as Navy SEALS are tested to their limits.

Predawn risers were at Duke’s breakfast diner in booths and at tables. The aroma of fried eggs, pancakes, grits, bacon and country ham filled the air. Gray caught Craige up on Sedgewicke’s autopsy reports—chronic degenerative heart condition, sky high cholesterol and arterial disease.

“His heart wasn’t what killed him. Got us a crafty one here,” Gray sighed. “CDC Atlanta verified Fred’s gas chromatography runs on the poison.” Handed Craige the folder.

Craige’s eyes zeroed to the big, bold word—ACONITE. “Lethal dose of aconite in Royce’s tissues,” Craige said. “Gives the how but not the way it was slipped to Sedgewicke.” He looked through the rest of the toxicology report. “Not very original. Rome’s Julio-Claudian's treacherous family of brigands was in some ways a lot more honest than most of us and far more sophisticated with aconite. They called it wolfsbane and used it often. Wife of old Octavian Augustus, a determined old dowager, the Empress Livia, it was rumored to be her favorite method for eliminating rivals. She kept her supplier on call. Augustus wouldn’t eat anything except food prepared by his own slaves. Livia wanted her son Tiberius to succeed to the purple. She was afraid Augustus meant to be rid of Tiberius, so she dusted her husband’s figs with the bane. People do get away with murder and simple makes for better odds.” Craige glanced at the next page. “This gone beyond your office?”

“Only CDC,” Gray said. “Your crack about possible killings we don’t know about keeps troubling me.” He scratched his wiry mustache. “Marshall’s suicide, Sedgewicke murder, two women dead, the Stanley break-in.”

Craige closed the folder, his face stony serious. “I’ve never done, what I’m about to do. Ask you for a favor...”

“No…” Craige’s monotone hardness surprised Gray. “But I gather that’s about to change.”

Author information:
With postgraduate degrees and faculty appointments in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction.

Hawk began writing mysteries for his school newspaper. His works of fiction, historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven, and reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series… murder and mayhem with a touch of romance. Vault of Secrets, the first book in the Ingram series, was followed by Nymrod Resurrection, Blood and Gold, and The Lady of Corpsewood Manor. All have received national attention. Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series is due out this fall with another mystery-thriller work out in 2014. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012.

"Without question, Hawk is one of the most gifted and imaginative writers I have had the pleasure to represent. His reading fans have something special to look forward to in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Intrigue, murder, deception and conspiracy--these are the things that take Hawk's main character, Navy ex-SEAL/part-time private investigator Craige Ingram, from his South Carolina ancestral home of Moccasin Hollow to the dirty backrooms of the nation's capital and across Europe and the Middle East."
Barbara Casey, President
Barbara Casey Literary Agency

Monday, November 25, 2013

Interview with historical romance author B.J. Scott

Welcome to the first day of a virtual book tour for historical romance author B.J. Scott. We're talking about her newest historical romance, Highland Homecoming (Book 3 of the Fraser Brother Trilogy.

One lucky, randomly-drawn commenter will win a $50 Amazon gift card, Scottish shortbread cookies, can cooler and mouse pad (US/Canada ONLY) during B.J.'s tour. You know what to do! Leave a comment below (and a way for BJ to get in touch with you) for a chance to win. And to increase your chances, feel free to visit other tour stops between now and December 20 and leave comments there, too!

With a passion for historical romance, history in general, and anything Celtic, B.J. always has an exciting work in progress. Each story offers a blend of romance, adventure, suspense, and, where appropriate, a dab of comic relief. Carefully researched historical facts are woven into each manuscript, providing a backdrop from which steamy romance, gripping plots, and vivid characters—dashing alpha heroes and resourceful, beguiling heroines you can’t help but admire—spring to life. A PAN member of RWA, World Romance Writers, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, and Savvy Authors, B.J. also writes contemporary, paranormal, time travel, and romantic suspense.

C.S. Lewis first captivated B. J.’s imagination in the fourth grade, and her desire to write sprang from there. Following a career in nursing and child and youth work, B.J. married her knight-in-shining-armor, and he whisked her away to his castle by the sea. In reality, they share their century-old home in a small Canadian town on the shore of Lake Erie with three dogs and a cat. When she is not working at her childcare job, on her small business, or writing, you will find her reading, camping, or antique hunting

Welcome, B.J. Please tell us about your current release.
This is the third book in a trilogy following the lives of three brothers, their dedication to the fight for Scottish independence, and the women who impact upon their lives and change them forever.

We meet Alasdair Fraser in book one of the series, Highland Legacy. The eldest of the three brothers, Alasdair is a larger than average, outspoken warrior with a gruff demeanor, no use for women, but a strong sense of duty to family, king and country. Despite being the oldest, he has turned down the leadership of the clan—a duty assumed by his brother Connor.

In the second book of the series, Highland Quest, Alasdair and his youngest brother Bryce continue to fight with Robert the Bruce and we get to know him a little better. His need to protect his younger brother at all cost.

Book three is Alasdair’s story. With both his brothers married, Alasdair continues to fight for the cause on his own. During a break in the fighting he decides to visit a life-long friend. The last thing he expects to find on a secluded beach in Northern Scotland is an unconscious lass. Having no idea how she came to be in the water and unable to turn his back on someone in need, Alasdair delays his journey to offer aid to the mystery woman. When she awakens with no memory of who she is or how she came to be on the beach Alasdair realizes he is in for the battle of his life, one that pits duty against desire. The question is will he let down the shield that guards his heart or will the secrets she remembers and fails to disclose drive an impenetrable wedge between them?

What inspired you to write this book?
As mentioned it is the third book in a series. When I wrote the first, I was not 100% sure I would write a series, but set the book up so I could. The response to book one and requests for the second book helped me to make my decision. As I wrote book two, the plot of the third book fell nicely into place and was the logical next step.

An onslaught of desire threatened to override Alasdair’s good sense. He fought the urge to plunder Lauren’s sweet mouth with his tongue, to lift her nightrail, to make her his own.

He broke their kiss and raised his head, knowing if he didn’t stop himself now, he might not be able to harness the unbridled passion heating his blood.

“Forgive me.” He forced the words out on a strangled breath. He swept an errant wisp of hair from her brow and locked his gaze with the wide, hazel eyes of a woman obviously shocked by his impulsive actions.

He cupped her chin, stroked her cheek with the pad of his thumb, then brushed it across her lips. “I dinna mean tae make inappropriate advances or tae take liberties. I—”

She pressed two fingers to his mouth to silence him. “You have naught tae apologize for. I appreciate you staying with me, Alasdair. After my nightmare, I canna bear tae sleep alone.” 

This was the first time she’d used his name, and it sounded as melodic as the Celtic lullabies his mother used to sing. At a loss for words, he stared back at her and smiled, but inside, his stomach churned in turmoil.

What to do?

He’d rather be drawn and quartered than remain on the pallet with her lush, shapely body pressed against his side, and not sate his carnal needs.

She’d begged him to stay, so why shouldn’t he take her? But she also trusted him enough to seek safety in his arms. He could not betray that trust.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently working on another Scottish historical, but is had nothing to do with the series. I don’t want to spoil the plot, but the title of the new manuscript is Bedded by Her Highland Enemy and the title is a great clue to what the book is about.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have always loved to read and jotted down stories since I was in my teens, but the day my first book released, is the day I considered myself a writer. Everything prior was the steps you need to take to reach your ultimate goal.

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 wish I could write full time but bills need to be paid so I work during the week as a child care provider specializing in children with special needs. My education background and previous careers being in Nursing and Child and Youth Work. I also have had a small business for eight years making heat pressed items (mugs, clocks, coasters, etc.) and doing machine embroidery. For many years I attended local dog shows to sell my items, but of late do more private orders from Clubs, authors etc. I also make beaded book thongs, jewelry, and key chains. Needless to say there are never enough hours in a day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I am stuck on a chapter or faced with writer block, I run a hot bath, fill the tub (we have the old claw foot tub) add some lavender and it is amazing how much I can accomplish.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I love animals and was always trying to help an injured bird or bringing home strays so thought a Vet would be a good job for me. But things have a way of changing when you get old enough to decide.

Ways to connect or find out more:

Thanks, B.J. Readers, don't forget to leave a comment for a chance at the wonderful gifts!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Live critique chat at Writer's Chatroom - Sunday, Nov 24, 7-9PM EST

Tomorrow, Sunday, November 24, The Writer's Chatroom will have a critique chat. Would you like a crit from the entire chatroom? Then follow the guidelines EXACTLY.

E-mail audrey (at) 200-300 words from your work. Paste your submission into the e-mail.
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.

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 attendance, 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, November 24, 2013
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!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Interview with mystery author Christine Amsden

Today I have a super-short interview with Christine Amsden - along with book blurbs and an excerpt from Book One. She's the author of The Cassie Scot Series that includes paranormal/urban fantasy romantic mystery novels Cassie Scot, Paranormal Detective and Secrets and Lies.

During her virtual book tour, Christine will be awarding a $50 Amazon or gift card to one randomly chosen commenter. To be entered to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops and enter there, too!

Award-winning author Christine Amsden has written stories since she was eight, always with a touch of the strange or unusual. She became a “serious” writer in 2003, after attending a boot camp with Orson Scott Card. She finished Touch of Fate shortly afterward, then penned The Immortality Virus, which won two awards. Expect many more titles by this up-and-coming author.


Book one - Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective
Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Book two - Secrets and Lies
Cassie Scot, still stinging from her parents’ betrayal, wants out of the magical world. But it isn’t letting her go. Her family is falling apart and despite everything, it looks like she may be the only one who can save them.

To complicate matters, Cassie owes Evan her life, making it difficult for her to deny him anything he really wants. And he wants her. Sparks fly when they team up to find two girls missing from summer camp, but long-buried secrets may ruin their hopes for happiness.

Excerpt from book one – Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective:
When we went back downstairs, I noticed a door leading to a screened-in back porch and started to turn the handle when my hand froze on the doorknob. My whole body stiffened, and my mouth went dry, so it took me several tries to alert Evan to what I'd seen.

“I found her,” I finally managed, in barely a whisper.

Nancy Hastings, Evan's sixteen-year-old cousin, lay in a pool of her own blood, eyes vacant and staring. Her hair had been a rich, luminous brown but was now matted with blood. It looked as if her throat had been torn out.

“No!” The cry tore from his throat and before I had a chance to stop him, Evan was inside the room and leaning over the body, looking for any sign of life, and probably destroying any trace evidence the police might have collected. But I couldn't blame him. I would have reacted precisely the same way, if it had been my family. As it was, I had to wipe away tears before I could get to my phone and call the sheriff. The need for secrecy had passed.

“Sheriff's department, this is Jane Conway.”

“Jane, it's Cassie. You need to get out to Belinda Hewitt's house right away. There's been a murder.” I hung up before she could ask for more details.

Slowly, Evan rose to his feet and made his way back into the house with me. He had smeared the blood and left footprints on the floor, but somehow none of it had ended up on him. Or if it had, then he had some way of removing it.

“The police are on their way,” I said, not sure if he would be upset with me for calling. Probably not. He looked too shocked to care.

“Yeah.” He leaned against a wall and closed his eyes.

“You should call your uncle.”

“Can I borrow your phone?” Evan asked. “Master Wolf doesn't believe in phones.”

Is your life anything like it was two years ago?
A bit. It evolves. My youngest is in kindergarten now which gives me more time during the day. I've used that time to take on freelance editing/mentoring jobs to help support my writing career. That wasn't true two years ago.

Have you ever had an imaginary friend?
No. My imagination led more to story-telling from an early age.

Do you have any phobias?
I'm afraid of anything that buzzes, especially if it gets too close. I got stung by a wasp on a canoe trip when I was a kid, miles upriver from anyplace we could stop for help. My face swelled up like a balloon and it was probably the most miserable afternoon of my life.

Ever broken any bones?
Nope! My limbs remain intact. (Knock on wood.)

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