Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book excerpt for paranormal romance novel Charlesgate by Dina Keratsis

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews. Today I’m featuring a book excerpt from the new paranormal romance novel, Charlesgate, by Dina Keratsis.

During her tour, Dina will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a lucky winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Blurb about Charlesgate:
Ever since Zylla Berry first saw the dilapidated mansion in Boston’s Back Bay, she’d become enchanted. When she walks by one day to find that someone is renovating the old beauty, she walks through its open door and meets Jabe Thayer. 

Determined to restore The Charlesgate to its former splendor, Jabe is thrilled to meet Zylla, who shares his passion for the building and knows its history. As they get to know each other, they find that their love for The Charlesgate is not a coincidence and as supernatural forces intensify, they begin to uncover a sinister secret that will threaten their future.

From the piratical seas of the seventeenth century, to Boston’s Gilded Age to the present, The Charlesgate is a haunting novel of ancestry, fate, and the unfailing power of love.

Excerpt from Charlesgate:
Zylla trotted up the steps into the cool darkness of the alcove and lovingly gazed at the gold-green ceramic tiled walls. Along the ceiling, the glossy tiles sported figures of knights, cherubs, flowers and heraldic crests. She ignored the chunks where tile was missing, just as she overlooked the broken lantern that hung from the ceiling on a rusted chain.

Instead, she turned to the iron-barred glass double doors, barely glancing at the yellow and black “No Trespassing” sign taped across them, or the thick chain and padlock wrapped around the door handles.

As always, Zylla wrapped her fingers around one grubby brass handle, closed her eyes, and pulled. And as always the padlock didn’t magically fall off to allow her entry into the Charlesgate’s realm.

Author bio and links:
Dina Keratsis is an award-winning author of romance fiction in which all roads lead to illumination and magic is found in the mundane. A New England girl, she has a penchant for punk rock, Scottish tea rooms and a mad crush on Sirius Black. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two children.

Buy the book: Amazon | Page Foundry | Scribd | Kobo | Apple 

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Interview with suspense horror novelist Mav Skye

Today’s guest writes dark…as in horror suspense. Mav Skye is here to chat about her newest novel, Supergirls, and promises not to scare anyone – yet.

During her tour, Mav will be awarding a $35 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner and a signed paperback copy of Supergirls (interntional) will be awarded to another randomly drawn winner. To be entered to win one of these gifts, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

When Mav Skye isn't turning innocent characters into axe murderers, refinishing old furniture, chasing around her spring ducklings, or reading the latest horror novel, she's editing at the almighty Pulp Metal Magazine.

She adores puppies, pirates, skulls, red hots, Tarantino movies and yes, Godzilla.

Especially Godzilla.

She is the author of Supergirls and The Undistilled Sky. Look for her wicked horror romance, Wanted:Single Rose, this fall and the second book in the Supergirls series, Night without Stars, early 2015.

Welcome, Mav. Please tell us about your current release.
Supergirls is what happens when two sisters born into dismal and dire circumstances grow up believing what they see on TV. They’ve had no parental guidance. No adults to trust. There was nothing but television to define their reality, nothing but superhero comics to set their expectations. They watched Superman and believed it, they watched Leave it to Beaver, I love Lucy, Goonies and believed it. They read Treasure Island and Supergirl Comics and Stephen King’s It, and believed it. As teens, they watched Pretty Woman, Kill Bill, Austin Powers and believed it.

Now, the only thing that stands between their current miserable existence and their Little House on the Prairie dreams is one “Fat Bastard” named Frederick Bells. Dispensing justice upon him, and stealing his money, should be a piece of cake…except younger sister, May, is a schizophrenic, Bells is a serial killer, and this isn’t a Disney movie.

Supergirls is the about the great gulf between what is and what should be.

What inspired you to write this book?
The unconditional love of my sisters. Passion, grief, guilt, the gray area between right and wrong. I’ve worked first hand with women and men who were dealt one sick hand of cards. It’s exasperating, frustrating, and I can see why the ugliness of crime can seem enticing.

Of course, there’s personal experience here too. I was still grieving my father’s passing, my son’s mental health illness was out of control, so much in my life was not working out. I felt dead inside. Writing this story helped raise me from the ashes. Supergirls isn’t pretty but it is heartfelt and honest. In the end, I think that is what matters most.

Enjoy an excerpt from Supergirls:
A narrow door with a brass knob catches my eye. It blends into the wall. “The closet,” I whisper.

We both walk to it, look at each other. I open the door. It is dark. A lone pull string hangs from a bulb. It tick-tocks back and forth like a grandfather clock tongue. I watch it a second, willing it to stop ticking, but it moves anyway in its own ghostly rhythm. I hesitate. Do I really want to see? Not just inside the closet, but see our lives clearly: May and mine, always looking for the next 7-11 job to get screwed at, flip a trick to pay rent, grab a buck burger for dinner, never having a real boyfriend, the weight of paying for May’s meds. What is the price for a dream, for peace? Our mother’s price (her face appears in my mind, navy blue eyes and a pale pretty mouth, a scar the shape of a kiss on her cheek) was running away. The price, I know, is always hefty and… complete. What would my price be?

The string tick-tocks on.

“Maybe we should just leave,” whispers May.

Her statement reflects my thoughts, but in her voicing it out loud, I feel angry. Running away. It’s what we’ve always done, what our mother did. We aren’t going back to that life. No way.

Tonight everything is going to change.

“Not without the money,” I say, and grab the string.

What exciting story are you working on next?
There’s a wicked little horror romance I’m hoping to release in the fall called Wanted: Single Rose. It’s my first full-length novel and has one kick ass femme fatale fox I’m quite excited about.

I've also written a sequel to SUPERGIRLS called Night without Stars. I can't give away too much, but I will say this-- the darkness we discover in the first book plunges even deeper in the second. I disturbed myself quite a bit writing it! I hope to release it in early 2015.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was singing stories before I learned to write. I made up bedtime stories to tell my brothers and sisters so they wouldn’t be afraid. I don’t think of myself as a writer so much as storyteller, in whatever medium I can get my hands on.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I don’t write full time, but I’m working on making that dream happen. I don’t like to give a lot of information away about myself, mainly because I think that’s creepy. And mystery is good. I will say I love to refinish furniture and play hide and seek with my ducks. If I ever disappear, my fine feathered friends will find me before any sniffer dog could. They are funny.

I have a couple of kids. One of them has a severe psychiatric disorder. My son has been one of the most challenging, exhausting, and rewarding experiences of my life. His courage and bravery amaze me as well as his tenacity to stick through what he needs to do. He gives me courage to dare what I dream because I see him do it every single day, I see his struggles which is fifteen times harder than what you or I could even imagine. My son doesn’t shirk away from what he needs to do, what he dares to do, and because of him, for him, I don’t either.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write in the attic, under a Godzilla poster.
I refer to my writing style as the bird poop method…
I have a steampunk spyglass that I whip out to survey the world through my tiny dormer window. I spy on birds in my apple tree.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
In this order: the first woman president, the first woman astronaut on the moon, and then I’d retire as a rock star. I think that as I’ve aged, I’ve grown more mature. Now I just want to be the first Martian president. I’d deliver my speeches in neon metal telepathy. I’d wear a quicksilver cat suit and moon boots with heels. My only hesitancy in accepting the presidency of Mars is whether I could bring my ducks with me or not.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you ever loved someone so much you’d do anything for them. If you ever felt like you had the opportunity to give someone you loved the world, but then dropped the ball. If you believe in the light and the dark, humor, fear, love and the gray area between…then Supergirls is for you.

Supergirls is available in print or e-book at: 
Payhip (50% discount at Payhip if you "share" the book)

Thanks, Mav!

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Interview with romance author Kelly D. Smith

Thanks for stopping by today. Today’s guest is Kelly D. Smith to chat a bit about her newest romance novel, Princess.

Kelly D. Smith is a 19-year-old erotica and romance writer from Canada. After being home-schooled all her life, she got her GED and has been pursuing her passion--writing-- with the hopes of turning it into a full time career.

Smith is a personal improvement junkie and loves excelling at challenges. She is a country girl at heart and loves spending the day outside with her 3 dogs and the cat!

Welcome, Kelly. Please tell us about your current release.
Princess is about a girl named Becky. She ends up falling in love with John, who is from a wealthy family. His grandmother is not a fan of Becky, since she thinks Becky is only with him for his money.

But not only that, Becky has to struggle with finally having the chance to meet her father-- who left her before she was born--her vindictive roommate who wants John for himself, and so much more.

What inspired you to write this book?
I'm not really sure honestly...I wanted to write a modern fairy tail type of romance. The idea was that Becky is making the transition from her lower-class lifestyle to a modern-day "princess' so to speak.

Oh, this is awkward.I hope he doesn’t notice me. I bowed my head, brushing my hair into my face.

I moved forward as someone went to the counter to place their order. Oh noo…I could feel it coming. My nose itched and I sniffled before letting out a series of quiet sneezes. Please don’t turn around, please don’t turn around. And he did.

Turning to face me, a smile spread across his lips and his eyes lit up. “Well hello.”

“Hi.” I smiled, pushing the hair out of my face. The entire world stopped for a fraction of a second and my heart skipped a beat. “How are you doing?”

“Pretty good, yourself?”

“Good…just, on my way home from work.”

“Ahh right, you said you worked at a bar, right?” I nodded. “Did you finish that book yet?”

“No, I’m still stuck on the Celtic mythology part. I haven’t had much time for reading.”
Someone stepped away from the counter and he moved forward to place his order. He stopped halfway to the counter and turned back to me. “Could I buy you a coffee, Becky?”

“Um…sure.” I followed him up to the counter as he placed his order. The women turned to look at me. “A small hot chocolate, please.”

She rang our total up and he pulled out a twenty-dollar bill.

“So.” He turned to me. “I don’t mean to drag you into this, but I’m guessing your friend isn’t going to call me back, is she?”

I opened my mouth, figuring out how I was supposed to reply. “Well…she isn’t really my friend, we just kinda…live together with a bunch of other people, mostly because I am broke and can’t afford to live anywhere else.” I gave a forced laugh. “But, I think you are right… If you haven’t heard from her by now she is either playing hard to get or not going to call you back.” A blush rose to my face as the waiter brought us our drinks.

“Thank you.” He smiled as we picked them up and headed for the door. “I was thinking, you seem like you would like to go to a fundraiser at a museum, there’s one tomorrow night and I’m dateless…Would you like to come with me? There will be a great exhibit open on Greek goddesses.”

“I…” Um, yes, please! But I don’t have anything to wear, and it’s not like I can afford to go out and get a new outfit. Not that I was going to tell him that. “I would love to.” I’ll find something. I decided.

“Awesome.” He beamed, holding the door open for me. “It’s formal. I’ll pick you up?”

“That sounds great and, um, thanks for the hot chocolate.”

“Anytime. I’ll be there at five-thirty. The fundraiser starts at six.” He turned in the opposite direction of where I was going and headed off.

I stood there for a second as I processed everything that had just happened. I think I just got a date. I grinned, taking a sip of my hot chocolate. Butterflies filled my stomach and I started trying to piece together what I would wear.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm working on a couple things right now! I just finished a paranormal romance that has some very CSI elements to it, it's not like anything I've written before but I'm very happy with it!
I'm working on a short winter romance; that really focuses on the couples acceptance of the death of their baby, and the strengthening of their relationship.

The last one is a paranormal chick lit, with lots of drama and lots of eyecandy!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I've been a writer since I was about 13, but it wasn't until my third work was accepted that I really felt like I could consider myself a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write? I write full time.
Most days I wake up, workout, clean the house, walk my dogs and then finally settle down to write. Depending on the day I will get 1,000-5,000 words done and as I am taking small breaks to eat I am working on marketing or social networking. I end my day at about 5, depending on how things are going.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don't think I really have one, but I'll be on the lookout for one now!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an Ironworker! I still do but the timing just hasn't been right, which is okay; it gives me time for my writing which I love.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I want to thank everyone. It's something so small but it's meant from the bottom of my heart. Every act of support, even the smallest one, means the world to me.

Thanks, Kelly! Happy writing!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book excerpt for urban fantasy novel The Rifters by M. Pax

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift certificate to a randomly drawn winner during her tour. To be entered to win, use the form below.

NOTE: The Rifters is FREE everywhere it's available. Buy links are below -- why not grab your copy today?

A junction between the worlds erupts.

The Gold Rush trickles to a fool’s quest and a string of stagecoach heists. In 1888, Earl Blacke decides to make a new start and become a better man. He escapes into the mountains, heading north. In the wilds of Oregon, a rift inside an ancient volcano opens and sends him into the future, into the present day. It also shaves thirty years off his age, thirty years to live over again and atone for what he’s done.

Starting over is hard to do. In current day New York, Daelin Long’s dream job at a publishing house goes the way of the dinosaurs her sister chases. With no money and nowhere else to go, Daelin accepts the librarian position in her sister’s dinky town in the middle of Oregon.

Nestled inside ancient volcanic peaks, the town of Settler holds onto many secrets. Residents roam the streets with weirdly fashioned devices, and odd lights pulse in the night skies. People whisper of a phantom outlaw and start dying, murdered and missing their heads. Worse than that, Daelin’s sister is missing, and Daelin doesn’t know who to trust.

Earl knows more than he’s saying. He shares a notorious history with the phantom, one he’ll see remains buried. Keeping Daelin’s sister’s secrets is his only chance at redemption, and the only way to keep this world safe.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Earl’s vigil ended. His girl came home. It had to be her. He stood, ready to run down into the clearing and embrace her, but the angle of the head gave him pause. Silhouetted by the blue energy, the arrival had a long beak. Yes, a beak. Definitely not Charming.

“No.” Earl slumped to the ground and scrambled behind a boulder. Once concealed from the visitor below, he raised his binoculars.

The figure came into focus illuminated by the moon and the rift. It wore a mask with goggles over its beak. Green mist poured out of it in a breathing rhythm, and it had the tail of an eel. The thing stood like a human with two arms and two legs in the usual places. It set down a gyroscope, a metal orb of rings, some full rings, some partial, before the gateway. The gyroscope spun, siphoning energy from the pillars, energy reaching for a crystal in its center. It spun faster, faster, faster until the crystal began to glow. A disturbing shade of green.

The beaked thing from the rift shrieked, which came out as a bubbly burp, an odd sound to go with an odd sight. It kept burping, stopping periodically to sniff at the wind. It continued with its strange behavior until the moon started to set, which deepened the shadows of night, stretching them to distorted patches.

M. Pax is author of the space adventure series The Backworlds, plus other novels and short stories. Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckons to her, and she blames Oregon for that, a source of endless inspiration. She docents at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers, has a cat who has a crush on Mr. Spock, and is slightly obsessed with Jane Austen.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New interview with mystery author Rex Burns

Multipublished and Edgar-award winning mystery novelist Rex Burns is back in the house. Today he's sharing about his second-in-a-new-series novel, Crude Carrier.

You can find his first interview on Reviews and Interviews about the first novel in this new series, Body Slam, here

Rex Burns' nineteen books are primarily in the mystery genre. The longest series features homicide detective Gabe Wager. Set in Colorado, the stories are used to depict Denver and environs at specific times using the "police procedural" format. Other titles include the non-fiction Success in America: The Yeoman Dream and the Industrial Revolution and a historical anthology of the mystery story (with Mary Rose Sullivan): Crime Classics. Crude Carrier is the second in a father-daughter private eye series.

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Rex.
Thank you, Lisa.

Please tell us about your newest release.
Crude Carrier involves the case of an unexplained death at sea. It alternates narrators between James Raiford and his daughter, Julie Campbell. She flies to London to dig into the background of the shipping company that hired the missing sailor, while her father goes aboard the ship from which the sailor was lost. Both soon find themselves in very rough waters.

What inspired you to write this book?
I liked the research into sea transport and into the dangerous, and often ill-rewarded, life of members of the international merchant marine. Having sailed aboard several large vessels, both combat and commercial, I wanted to re-create the feel and atmosphere of shipboard life. And I, like so many writers, find London to be a city of fascination for its many faces: historical, architectural, and human.

What's the next project?
Currently, I'm working on a story set in Australia.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book?
The biggest challenge with every book I work on is to complete a first draft. Once that's done, the fun of rewriting begins.

If your novels require research - please talk about the process. Do you do the research first, and then write, while you're writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
All of the above--initial research can reveal whether or not there is material of enough depth for the kind of story one wants to tell, and whether or not the facts can be shaped into an artistic form. During the writing, specific incidents of plot are tested against the possibilities of the setting and the action. It's also where questions arise that were not foreseen in the initial research and which require resolution. Once the first draft is complete, one goes through for the gaps and literary inconsistencies and the means to fix them.

What's your writing space like?
I have an office into which I disappear. Sometimes--all too seldom--the muse joins me.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or without of your genre?
So many! Like most readers, I find pleasure in a good story told well, and I find it in established masterpieces as well as recently published writers. The latest pleasures include T. Jefferson Parker for his stories of Southern California and the memories they stir, R. T. Lawton's solid short stories and the sheer fun of good costume drama, and Roz Barber's The Marlow Papers for the psychological effects and nuances of feeling that are born from reading a 500-plus page story told in blank verse.

Anything additional you wish to share with the readers?
If you really enjoy a book, please let the author know. That's a currency rarer than coin.

Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews and entertaining my readers today!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Interview with mystery author Brett Garcia Rose

Today’s special guest is mystery author Brett Garcia Rose to give us some insight into his new action-packed novel, Noise.

Brett has graciously offered to give away a Kindle version of Noise to one (1) lucky commentor on this post. So if you’d like to be entered for a chance to win, make sure to leave me a way to contact you, below!

Brett Garcia Rose is a writer, software entrepreneur, and former animal rights soldier and stutterer. He is the author of two books, Noise and Losing Found Things, and his work has been published in Sunday Newsday MagazineThe Barcelona ReviewOpiumRose and ThornThe Battered SuitcaseFiction AtticParaphilia and other literary magazines and anthologies. His short stories have won the Fiction Attic’s Short Memoir Award (Second Place), Opium’s Bookmark Competition, The Lascaux Prize for Short Fiction, and have been nominated for the Million Writer’s AwardBest of the Net and The Pushcart Prize. Rose travels extensively, but calls New York City home. 

Welcome, Brett. Please tell us about your current release.
My latest novel Noise is a thriller/mystery centering on a deaf character's search for his missing sister. It's short, violent, but ultimately it's about love. Noise was published in June 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  

What inspired you to write this book?
Ha, good one. I have no idea, really. My stutter had a lot to do with it, as communications issues weigh heavily on the character and his actions. Also, I wrote the book while I was staying in one of the noisiest buildings in South Beach. So clearly, the writing locale inspired the title.

Excerpt from Noise:
The sounds I cannot hear: The whistle of the hammer as it arcs through the air. The wailing of pain and the begging of The Bear. The dripping of blood from thawing meat onto the wet concrete floor. The beautifully crude threats.

My own hideous voice.

I drag The Bear into a walk-in freezer by the hook sunk through his shoulder and toss him into a corner on the floor. When I reenter the freezer, dragging the oak table behind me, The Bear is hard at work on the hook, trying to muscle it out, but it’s sunk deep, through the tendons. Hope is adrenaline, fear masks pain, begging helps no one.

I yank him up by the hook and then hold his hands outstretched, one at a time, as I nail his wrists to the table with railroad spikes. I put all of my 240 pounds behind the hammer, but even so, it takes several swings. His body shakes, the nails sink further into the wood, his face is pain. He screams, but I cannot hear.

The building above burns a deep blue hue with my smuggled-in accelerants.

The sound of the hammer into The Bear. The pain in his eyes. I have never seen so much hatred. It is beautiful to me, to reach this center, this uncomplicated base, to disassemble the past and honor a new history. It is another film, also homemade and rough, an overlay, an epilogue. The Bear is broken but I have spared his face, and to see those eyes, that is what I needed; to see his hatred flow into me, my own eyes sucking down the scum like bathtub drains. His life whirls into me and I taste the fear, the hope, the sharp sting of adrenaline pumping and the reeking muck of despair. His pain soothes me, a slow, thick poison. We will all die.

I know it now; I am a broken man. I always was. I imagine Lily watching me, Lily keeping score, making lists, balancing all. As a child from far away, she was the queen, even more so than her mother. But she didn’t survive. The world was not as we had imagined, not even close. The world is a cruel, bastard place, Lily cold and lost somewhere, me hot and bleeding and swinging my hammer. Life as it is, not as we wish it to be.

The sounds I cannot hear: The laughter of the watchers. The groan of my sister as The Bear cums inside of her, pulling her hair until the roots bleed. The Bear screams and shits himself inside the dark freezer. Lily’s wailing and cursing and crying. I scream at The Bear with all my mighty, damaged voice, swinging the hammer at his ruined hands, hands that will never again touch anyone. Lily at the end, beaten and pissed on and begging to die.

Lily is dead. I am dead. It will never be enough.

I remove the stack of photos from my wallet that I’d printed at the Internet cafĂ© a lifetime ago and place them face down on the table in front of The Bear. I draw an X on the back of the first photo and turn it over, laying it close to the pulp of his ruined hands.

The Bear offers me anything I want. An animal can feel pain but cannot describe or transmit it adequately. The Bear both is and is not an animal. I lack hearing, so the Bear cannot transmit his experience to me unless I choose to see it. His pain is not my pain, but mine is very much his. I swing the hammer into his unhooked shoulder, and then I draw another X and flip another photo.

His lips move, and I understand what he wants to know. Five photos.

In my notepad, I write: you are a rapist fucking pig. I put the paper into the gristle of his hands and swing the hammer against the metal hook again. It’s a sound I can feel.

Anything, The Bear mouths. He is sweating in the cold air of the freezer. Crying. Bleeding.

In my pad, I write: I want my sister back. I swing the hammer claw-side first into his mouth and leave it there. His body shakes and twitches.

I turn over his photo and write one last note, tearing it off slowly and holding it in front of his face, the handle of the hammer protruding from his jaw like a tusk. You are number four. There are a few seconds of space as the information stirs into him and I watch as he deflates, the skin on his face sagging like a used condom. He knows what I know.

I turn over the last photo for him. I turn it slowly and carefully, sliding it toward him. Victor, his one good son, his outside accomplishment, his college boy, the one who tried to fuck him and they fucked my sister instead.

I remove another mason jar from my bag, unscrewing the metal top and letting the thick fluid flow onto his lap. I wipe my hands carefully and light a kitchen match, holding it in front of his face for a few seconds as it catches fully. He doesn’t try to blow it out. He doesn’t beg me to stop. He just stares at the match as the flame catches, and I drop it onto his lap.

The Bear shakes so hard from the pain that one of his arms rips from the table, leaving a skewer of meat and tendon on the metal spike. I lean into his ear, taking in his sweet reek and the rot of his bowels and, in my own hideous voice, I say:

“Wait for me.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
A third-person thriller called Ren. It's a bit more complex than Noise, but just as fun. A little terrorism, more guns, lots of bodies. Also, the main character is both the hunter and the hunted, so there are multiple points of view. But also, it's about love. That pretty much sums up both books. Love, and a lot of bodies.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
First year of college. Because of my stutter, I almost never made friends, and I transferred every year or so. At the end of that first year I decided to write a letter to the people I'd wished I'd known well enough to actually say goodbye to. I slipped it under the door to the university newspaper and left in the middle of the night. At each subsequent college I attended I had a standing weekly column at the school newspapers, wrote for the lit magazines, and was one of the youngest people every to have a column (3) published in the Sunday Newsday Magazine

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don't write full-time, and even if my life permitted it, I don't think I could do it, and I'm perpetually amazed at those who can. When I'm deep in a project, I'll average an hour a day, two if you include editing, researching, and what I refer to as scene design. So a productive week for me is a solid 5-10 pages. I also work as a software consultant, which is remarkably similar to writing. Same mindset, different language, all building blocks and logical arrangements.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am always desperate to write outside. Once I'm ready for line editing, I usually work in crowded places; outdoor cafe's, etc. 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A pilot, like all boys.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes. I still want to be a pilot.

Thanks so much for being here, today, Brett! Happy writing!

Readers, don't forget that Brett is giving away a Kindle version of this book -- so leave a comment below and a way for me to reach you if you're the winner.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Interview with self-help, spirituality, and humor author Sally Naylor

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I have an interview today with educator, counselor, and poet, Sally Naylor as she celebrates the release of her second book Rogue Nirvana -- Beyond Woo-Woo: Create the Life You Love. If you’ve ever wondered if this is all there is or wondered what’s missing in your life’s journey, this book offers a comedic yet laser-focused excursion into how societal norms, self-help, and new age spirituality do not often offer you relief. After battles with chronic fatigue, cancer, and widowhood, Naylor sought, synthesize, and now shares in this field guide, her belief that you too can construct your own personal Nirvana.

About the Author
sally naylor1
Sally Naylor, daughter of a highly decorated WWII combat veteran, FBI agent, and lawyer, and a sweet, stay-at-home, religious, southern belle mother, roamed the world growing up as an “Air Force Brat”. This gypsy was raised with and confused by both the sword and the cross. A series of crises later in life: chronic fatigue, widowhood, breast cancer, in addition to a new love affair, motivated her to engage in this rogue romp to Nirvana as she sorts through the impossible expectations of her conventional middle class upbringing.

And yes, she did attain her own Nirvana but in an unexpected & bizarre manner. Before she set aside societal conditioning and its inherent promise of Nirvana, Naylor negotiated and ultimately thrived as an independent school English teacher and curriculum developer. Naylor’s students have had their work featured in many publications and have won numerous writing awards. In addition to teaching creative writing she served as an in-school counselor where she initiated student peer-to-peer counseling, mediation and AIDS Ed training programs. As a creative writing teacher and blogger she shares her expertise on her own aptly named web site: Writing Rogue. She also enjoys life coaching, speaking, and facilitating workshops.

Welcome, Sally. Please tell us about your current release.
Naylor’s insightful eye for the absurd and her keen sense of humor explore the detours, dead ends, and fallacies on the road to nirvana.

Breaking new literary ground, Naylor combines poetry and prose as she weaves a story of the paradoxes and frustrations that the imperatives of family, religion, the educational establishment, and society proffer: the myth that if you only “try harder” or “are good,” Nirvana awaits.

Tag along on Sally Naylor’s double-pronged journey into both new age spirituality and the mandates of conventional wisdom. Through her laser focus and deeply insightful humor, you’ll discover where you fit on the Woo-Woo to skeptic’s continuum. Whatever your position, this book will touch you, all of you: from the conventional to the seeker, from the artist to the pragmatist, whether bleeding heart, cynic, Pollyanna or atheist; rest assured, the inspiration for your own Nirvana lies within this book.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted some fun and to share my experience with others, for at what point in your own life did you realize that the teachings of your family, school, religion and community will not guarantee the Nirvana they promised for following the rules. At what point did you realize that if you are to attain your Nirvana it will be a do-it-yourself project?

What exciting story are you working on next?
Next high priority is a book titled The Estrogen Paradox, then two poetry books, a creative writing text and a pragmatic series of collaborative essays detailing processes that clear emotional and mental density which the author developed with five partners titled, Rogue’s Release.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
About seven but I didn’t get serious til I was 47.

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?
My writing, editing & coach projects constitute full time work, but my hours vary. I avoid routines. Writing finds me, like breathing. It’s virtually reflexive.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My love of the quirky and desire to showcase and revel in it.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The wife of a judge, politician or professor. Hate to admit it, but there it is.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Rogue Nirvana and Firebird are both available on Amazon, Check out review on Kirkus.

Thanks for being here today, Sally!

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Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Motivational Press, Inc. (May 20, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1628650974
ISBN-13: 978-1628650976


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review of And Grant You Peace by Kate Flora

And Grant You Peace
by Kate Flora
Mystery/Police Procedural

Reviewed by Lisa Haselton

The fourth Joe Burgess Mystery is coming soon, but I was able to read an advance readers copy and here's what I thought about the novel.

It was breath taking. Literally. I felt I was on Burgess' shoulder throughout the story (at one time I even thought about ducking behind Burgess so I wouldn't get shot). It wasn't just the fast-paced, crisp writing that had me feeling that way, it was the scenarios the cast of characters found themselves in and the immense attention to detail shared with the reader.

Author Kate Flora likes to get the details right and she spends a lot of time with on-the-job officers asking questions, doing ride-a-longs, and getting hands-on experience to do just that.

One scene in particular will stick with me - without giving away all the details, I'll just say it was a scene with off-duty officers encountering an unpleasant situation. The scene was so well written that I saw it clearly and my heart raced as the officers took things second by second. And that's not saying the scene was drawn out, it wasn't, it was written so the reader was in the moment with the characters. And Flora was able to do that because of her research. What really struck me is that Flora didn't stop the scene until the officers were out of the situation and able to take a breath, think about what happened, and basically say 'oh shit, that just happened.'

I can't think of another novel where I've been with officers after an incident -- it's usually, wham-bam-slam and racing off to the next bad guy. This novel is akin to a-few-days-in-the-life-with-an-actual-on-the-job-detective in Portland, Maine.

I don't know how I haven't read the earlier Burgess books, but now I have to. This worked well as a standalone, obviously, and I don't feel I'm missing out on anything, but I'm curious to see how Burgess has changed over the course of the novels. 

Along with the Joe Burgess gritty police procedurals, Flora’s 12 books include the Thea Kozak mysteries, and her true crime books, Finding Amy and Death Dealer (which I reviewed last month)When she’s not writing, or teaching at Grub Street in Boston, she’s in her garden, waging a constant battle against critters, pests, and her husband’s lawnmower. 

I wasn't quite as exhausted as Joe Burgess by the time I finished the novel, but I was close. The writing is so well done that I was in the moment with the character through all 330 pages. I can not imagine being a police officer or detective where a phone call can change your life so incredibly quickly. I need some structure to my day and know that I will be able to eat when I want, take breaks when I want, and most importantly sleep when I need to. I'm hoping Joe Burgess and his team have some downtime now before the next phone call!

This is an exciting read, but make sure to have the seat belt secured before opening the book.

If you’re interested in learning more about Kate, her fiction or non-fiction, visit her website, or check out her posts on the Maine Crime Writers blog. 

Release date: October 22, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4328-2939-1
Publisher: Five Star; A part of Gale, Cengage Learning

(I received an ARC of this book with no promise of a review of any kind.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Interview with psychological suspense author Maggie James

Today’s special guest is British author of psychological suspense novels, Maggie James. We get to hear a bit about her newest book, Guilty Innocence, and other fun things.

Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels.

The first draft of her first novel, entitled His Kidnapper’s Shoes, was written whilst travelling in Bolivia. Maggie was inspired by an impending milestone birthday along with a healthy dose of annoyance at having procrastinated for so long in writing a novel. His Kidnapper’s Shoes was published in both paperback and e-book format in 2013, followed by her second novel, entitled Sister, Psychopath. Her third novel, Guilty Innocence, has now been published, and like her first two, features her home city of Bristol. She is currently working on her fourth novel.

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

Welcome, Maggie. Please tell us about your current release.
Guilty Innocence is a psychological suspense novel. It’s a gritty story examining child murder and dysfunctional families; the novel tells of one man’s struggle to break free from his past.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was intrigued by the idea of how it would feel to discover that someone you love has a secret past, especially if it involved a horrific crime. The characters of Natalie Richards and Mark Slater were thus born in my head and hassled me endlessly until I wrote their story. Mark was once wrongly convicted of child murder, a fact he conceals from everyone, including his girlfriend Natalie. The truth, of course, will out, and it will devastate Natalie as Mark struggles to confront his demons.

From Chapter 1 – The Letter

Natalie Richards’s first reaction to the letter in her hands is one of suspicion. A response fuelled by her misgivings, the ones prompting her to search through her boyfriend’s possessions, like an addict seeking a fix. Who the hell is Joshua Barker, and why does Mark have a letter addressed to him?
She first discovers it at the bottom of his bedside cabinet, when she’s almost given up on finding anything. From the outside, the letter holds no clue as to the explosive nature of its contents. She almost misses it; it’s tucked away at the very bottom of the last drawer, under a pile of bank statements. Natalie flips through them quickly; what she’s seeking isn’t likely to be concealed amongst cash withdrawals and direct debits. She goes to replace the bank statements and close the drawer, when she notices the envelope. It’s lying face down, almost as if it’s hiding. In the interests of being thorough in her search, she pulls it out.
She reads the letter, the name of Joshua Barker nagging at her as she does so, its vague familiarity teasing her. As the contents sink into her mind, the realisation of who Joshua Barker is claws its way to the surface in her brain, exploding through her skull in a myriad of disbelief and denial.
Natalie hurls the letter from her grasp as though the paper has burned her. Which, in a way, it has. It lands near the door, the momentum causing it to slide partly underneath, as if to crawl away from her. A low moan escapes her as she sinks to the floor, her stomach clenching in rebuttal of what’s hammering through her brain. She stares at the cheap melamine bedside cabinet as though it has betrayed her by offering sanctuary to Joshua Barker’s letter. Would to God she’d never decided to search through Mark’s things. She’s been expecting to find shit, but not something that stinks this bad. Nobody could have anticipated the contents of the letter taunting her from the other side of the room. You screwed up again, Natalie. Drawn to bad boys, aren’t you? Well, they don’t come much worse than this one.
She huddles against Mark’s bed, which is neatly made, of course. Everything with Mark is always tidy, regimented, in its place. The almost antiseptic neatness of his cramped flat reveals little about the man she’s been dating, on and off, for the last four months. The on part is mostly down to her; she doesn’t let herself wonder if Mark ever contemplates pressing the off button.
Natalie’s come here today because she suspects her boyfriend may be seeing another woman. Given her track record with men, it’s the obvious conclusion when Mark seems distant, evasive, oblivious to her hints about taking their relationship further. Getting their own place. Perhaps a baby in due course. So far Natalie has only given the vaguest of suggestions on the baby issue; Mark’s abrupt withdrawal when she does so silences her immediately.
Finding a man who wants what she does - commitment, togetherness, stability - doesn’t come easily to Natalie. She knows men like that exist. Take her cousin Janine, for instance. Married for five years now, with a two-year-old daughter and another baby on the way, her husband Gavin the archetypal faithful adoring partner. Janine, though, has the shining example of her parents, happily married for thirty years. Not so with Natalie. Before the divorce, her father seems determined to bed every available woman in Bristol. Eventually he walks out on his wife and eleven-year-old daughter and doesn’t come back. His contact with Natalie is reduced to sporadic Christmas and birthday cards that eventually peter out. Callie Richards, angry and embittered, is left to bring up her daughter alone.
No wonder Natalie has a track record of always going for the bad boys. A psychologist might say she’s on a mission to find and reform her errant father. The finding’s not been a problem; it’s the reforming that’s proved a fruitless quest so far with the men she dates.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve written my fourth novel, provisionally entitled The Second Captive and am currently engaged in revising and editing it, ready for publication in October 2014. I seem to be unusual amongst writers in that I really enjoy the editing process. The novel examines the fascinating psychological condition known as Stockholm syndrome, in which victims become emotionally attached to their abusers. I’m drawn to dark themes and unusual psychological issues for my novels.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Before I wrote my first novel, His Kidnapper’s Shoes, I wrote some short stories, which I published online and which received very favourable feedback and reviews. I guess I started to believe I was a writer back then. Writing is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I went for decades without doing anything about it. Believe me, I’m making up for lost time now!

What’s your work day like?
In the mornings, I work on all matters writing-related, whether it’s writing, revision, editing or getting my work formatted for publication. Although I’m more of a night owl, I find I’m better at creative pursuits first thing in the day. Can’t explain why, but that’s the way it is, so I don’t fight it! After lunch, I tackle marketing-related projects, such as scheduling promotions, writing blog posts, having fun on social media or sundry stuff such as updating my website. I don’t normally work evenings or weekends, although when life gets hectic around publication time that can change.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmm, I’m not sure I have any quirks as such! Or maybe I can’t spot them? I do like to be very organised about writing – I’m a planner rather than a pantser – and that seems unusual amongst writers, as is the fact I tend to write linearly rather than skipping around in the plot when writing. For real quirks, ask me again in ten years – I’m sure I’ll have acquired a few by then!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a novelist. Nothing else, just that. So when I found myself approaching a milestone birthday and I still hadn’t written anything, it was time for drastic action. I quit my job and went off travelling for a year, with a secret agenda I didn’t reveal to anyone. That was to come back with a novel completed to first draft stage – and that’s exactly what I did. I spent two months in the beautiful city of Sucre, in Bolivia, writing His Kidnapper’s Shoes. The sense of achievement I experienced after I typed the final words will stay with me forever.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I blog regularly about all things fiction-related on my website, so come along and say hello! I really enjoy blogging, and I welcome guest posts; I have guidelines for bloggers available on my website. I also love interacting with my readers, so do connect with me via any of my social media links.

Other ways to find out more:

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