Friday, February 27, 2015

Interview with romantic suspense author Arby Corry

Today’s spotlight is shining on romantic suspense author Arby Corry and her novel Heart-Shaped Stone.

During her virtual book tour, Arby will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble 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.

Arby Corry is an award-winning writer, wife, mother, grandmother. Although writing is her passion, she has spent most of her career in the broadcast industry as a radio announcer. Heard on stations coast to coast, and the occasional audiobook, Arby now spends most of her days writing, enjoying the great outdoors with her husband and spending time with her grandson.

Welcome, Arby. Please tell us about your current release.
Caila, like most dreamers, just wants to be wanted. Unlike most dreamers, she's wanted by the CIA.

When the last decade of thirty-two year old Caila Domenici’s life disappears, destroyed in a car accident, she is forced to begin again. Defying doctor’s orders to slow-go-it, she sets out to navigate the world on her own. It's not going well. Coddled from birth, everything from a bus schedule to how to boil water confounds her. Worse yet, she's about to accept her meddling mother's offer to pay for food and rent. With just a hunch her talents extend beyond that of daughter of privilege, Caila searches for her past. Before she can find it, it finds her. And the handsome azure-eyed stranger who’s saying he knows her is somehow part of it.

Caila always believed there had to be more, but now, on the verge of discovering the truth, she must decide which is worse – never knowing who she really is, or knowing too much.

What inspired you to write this book?
That’s a great question, and you know, the honest answer is – I do not know! But if you were to ask what inspired me to keep writing it, well, that I can answer. All I knew going in was that this was to be a love story. I love a good love story, and a complicated one all the more. I found the further I delved in the more I kept writing. Heart-Shaped Stone is my first full-length novel. I’ve written plenty of short stories, started other projects just to see it not come to completion, but this was different. As silly as it may sound, the characters spoke to me. They took me on a journey and I had no idea where we were going or how we were going to get there, but what happened is that I ended up with a story, and an ending, I never expected.

Excerpt from Heart-Shaped Stone:
Reese was being too nice. Something was up - their deep conversation the night before, the bubble bath, the tea, turning down her bed and now breakfast? Caila wasn’t suspicious by nature, and in most cases trusted more than she should, but where Reese was concerned she dropped all pretenses and questioned his every move. He was much too calculating to not see opportunity in everything he did. Caila recognized that in him right away. Her mind was now churning with theories. Why, if he was up to something, would he be so blatant with this sudden kindness? Did he think she would not notice?

Then she imagined the most unexpected thing.

Maybe he wasn’t up to anything at all. Maybe this was another side to the man she detested right from the start. The invader, the man who came to make her life a living hell and push aside her father may not, after all, be the man she believed him to be. But even that theory was short lived.
No, she thought, he has a motive.

What exciting story are you working on next?
That would be a follow-up to Heart-Shaped Stone. When you read it you will see that it needs one, no, requires one, and I’m super excited about what happens next. I think the readers will be too.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve had this lifelong love affair with words and have always welcomed any chance to write. I think, other than recess, it was one subject I really loved as a child in school. As an adult I registered for some college classes, mainly to refresh skills, but quickly found that I loved writing more than I ever knew. My English teacher encouraged me, telling the class “I think we have a writer on our hands.” I’d heard it many times before but never took it seriously. After my divorce, left to raise two young sons on my own, I would sit at night and write as an outlet after the kids fell asleep. It not only erased all the stress of being a full-time working, single mother of two, but I quite enjoyed. More importantly, I realized I’d been ignoring a God-given talent. From there I just kept going – short stories, writing copy for broadcast and eventually my first full-length novel.

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 when I can, and hope that is often! No, I’m actually a radio announcer and have worked in the radio business for many years. As a long time on-air personality I’ve had the opportunity to use some of those writing skills for commercial production, having written hundreds of radio spots, but it’d be great to write full time. I love it.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I get a lot of ideas while in my car. I’ve heard many complain about having to sit in traffic, don’t me get me wrong, it’s not fun for anyone – including me – but I use the time to mull over a passage in my book and wonder if there is another way to go. Almost always I come up with a better idea or a more interesting storyline.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A wife and mom. Oh, yes, there were other things, doctor, firefighter, radio DJ, writer and all but one of those actually happened and it’s not doctor! Oh, and yes, being a mom, now grandmother to one, is my greatest joy.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you for taking a look. If you enjoy stories that feature “real” characters, real life experiences and real dialogue, I know you’ll enjoy Heart-Shaped Stone.

Where to buy: Amazon

Thank you, Arby! Happy writing!

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Interview with debut mystery novelist James Anderson

Today’s special guest is debut mystery author James Anderson. His novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner, has already received a lot of positive reviews, and we have him here to answer a few questions and give us insight into his writing life.

“Anderson distills the heat and shimmering haze of the Utah desert into his fine first novel.”—Publishers Weekly
“We predict The Never-Open Desert Diner will be one of the best books you read in 2015.”—Prose ‘n Cons™ Magazine 
 A striking debut novel—lyrical, whimsical, atmospheric.”
CJ. Box, New York Times Best Selling author of The Highway and Breaking Point
“The Never Open Desert Diner is crime fiction that transcends the noir genre, in the vein of James Lee Burke and Dennis Lehane.”
—William Hastings, author of The Hard Way

Welcome, James. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Seattle, Washington and raised primarily in Oregon. I attended various public schools. I was a frequently absent and perpetually poor student. I graduated from Reed College in Portland with a degree in American Studies, and then attended graduate school in Boston. Along the way I worked for the Army, lived in many places around the world, did logging, commercial fishing, sold cars, and founded and ran a small publishing company. For a short period I produced documentary films.

Please tell us about your debut release, The Never-Open Desert Diner.
Ben Jones is a single, thirty-eight year old truck driver who makes deliveries to people along a particularly remote stretch of highway in the high desert of southern Utah. He discovers a woman playing a cello with no strings in the model home of an abandoned housing development in the desert. I am not really all that interested in crimes themselves. I am more interested in how the residue of a crime clings to the lives of people, often disparate strangers, almost like leaves on water being rocked by a motorboat’s wake a half a world away.

What inspired you to write this book?
What my friend, nonfiction writer Bruce Berger calls the “intersection of landscape and humanity.” Particularly the desert. There is a certain fullness of nothing that has attracted seekers and wanderers for thousands of years. I combined that with my affection for the mysteries of John D. MacDonald, James Crumley, and others whose novels seem to derive their beauty and force from the region in which they are set. I have long been a fan of writers like Barry Lopez, Terry Tempest Williams, Gretel Ehrlich, as well as Bruce Berger.

I was also much influenced by Thomas Merton’s Wisdom of the Desert Fathers.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am writing the next Ben Jones novel and also a novel set in Oregon, which I’ve been working on for several years. Alternately I am also working on two novellas, short stories, and poems.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I never thought about it. I still don’t. It was something I have always done. Before I could write I told stories. Okay, lies! I was writing short stories in elementary school and finished my first novel when I was sixteen. My first publications in national magazines began when I was around nineteen, a poem called “Running It Down” in Poetry Northwest.

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 up every morning around four am. I usually write until about nine. I read in the evenings, everything from novels, poetry, memoirs and science, particularly neuro-biology and physics. I also do native stonework from time to time. I used to run marathons, but all my running friends have become injured or just quit. I go to the gym now or hike. Once in a while I will run trails. I also do Chinese calligraphy.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Just one? I close my eyes and inhabit the scene. When I open my eyes I write what I saw and heard. I’m sort of a “method” writer, I guess. Of course that’s during the rough draft. The detailed nuts and bolts and polishing comes in the revision process. The novel we are discussing went through fourteen major revisions.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Someone else.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just a simple “thank you.” Thanks for reading. Period. My work and everybody and anybody else.

My book is available through your local independent bookseller, Barnes and Noble, and other online venues, as well as through my publisher directly at:

Social media:

Thank you, James! Happy writing!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Christian fiction novel Shattered Pieces by Doris H. Dancy

Today’s spotlight is directed to the Christian fiction romance novel Shattered Pieces by Doris H. Dancy.

Doris is currently doing a virtual book tour with Write Now Literary VBT. You can visit her other tour stops to learn more about her and her novel.

Doris is an accomplished and award-winning educator, speaker, writing consultant, editor, and playwright. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author. Her life’s focus has been educating our youth in an appreciation of both the written and spoken word.

She received her BA degree in English from North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina and began a teaching career in both English and Spanish. She was graduated from Hampton University with an MA in English Education and eventually became chairperson of the English Department, English teacher specialist, and later supervisor of English K-12 for Hampton City Public Schools. Teaching and supervising were both rewarding careers, and each taught her a different level and focus of professionalism and commitment. As the supervisor, along with many other responsibilities, she developed and provided staff development for a writing program that guaranteed student achievement. This step-by-step process is easy for students of all ages to grasp and move toward successful writing. The program continually proved itself through extremely high and consistent state standard of learning tests scores.

Throughout Mrs. Dancy’s life, she has found many favorable outcomes in a variety of endeavors. One of her greatest rewards has been seeing the tremendous success of so many of her students, and she has received numerous awards for excellence in educating, some of which are The Virginia Outstanding Teacher of English, The National Award for Building Successful Readers, The Governor’s School Outstanding Educator’s Award from the University of Richmond, and International Book Award Finalist for Jagged Edges.

Mrs. Dancy resides in Yorktown, Virginia.

A little bit about Shattered Pieces:
Most people who have known Zackary Tyler Belford for any length of time see nothing more for him than a path leading to destruction. Not even his handsome face, a Harvard Law degree, or limitless wealth can bypass the shattered heart and broken soul of the man-child still held captive by the abuse, accusations, and mistreatment he experienced as a child. Breaking hearts and taking numbers is his MO… a dangerous game of cat and mouse that could very well be his demise. As his life spirals out of control, Zack desperately seeks something to grab…to cling to…as he struggles hopelessly to avoid an inevitable fall…but will he find what he needs in time?

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Special excerpt for time-travel romance novel A Stolen Season by Tamara Gill

My special feature today is a book excerpt from the Regency time-travel romance novel A Stolen Season by Tamara Gill.

During her virtual book tour, Tamara will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble 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.

Tamara is an Australian author who grew up in an old mining town in country South Australia, where her love of history was founded. So much so, she made her darling husband travel to the UK for their honeymoon, where she dragged him from one historical monument and castle to another.

A mother of three, her two little gentleman's in the making, a future Lady (she hopes) and a part-time job keep her busy in the real world, but whenever she gets a moment's peace she loves to write romance novels in an array of genres, including regency, medieval and paranormal.

Tamara loves hearing from readers and writers alike. You can contact her through her website, and sign up to follow her blog or newsletter.

Here’s a little description about A Stolen Season:
Time-traveling archaeologist Sarah Baxter just left a piece of 21st-century equipment in 19th century Regency England. Unfortunately, when she goes back to retrieve it, she makes an even bigger mess of things—resulting in the death of an English earl. Now his brother is not only out for revenge, but he also has Sarah's device. Now Sarah must find a way to steal back her device, hide the truth about the earl's brother and—most importantly—to not fall in love...

Here’s an excerpt from A Stolen Season:
“You will have to sleep with him.” Richard threw his cheroot into the unlit hearth. “I thought you planned on doing that anyway. You like him, and he obviously likes you, so what’s the problem? It’s not like you’re a virgin.”

Sarah shushed him and sat down on the opposite chair. “That’s not the point. I can’t just jump his bones; women of this era don’t work that way. He has to court me, woo me.” She sighed at Richard’s disgusted expression. “I know it sounds lame, but it’s actually quite nice to have a gentleman sweep you off your feet.”

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Interview with thriller author Matthew Peters

Welcome, Readers. Today’s special guest is thriller author Matthew Peters. He’s talking about writing and in particular, his religious thriller, The Brothers’ Keepers.

During his virtual book tour, Matthew will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble 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 his other tour stops and enter there, too.

Dual diagnosed* from an early age, Matthew Peters dropped out of high school at sixteen. He went on to obtain an A.A., a B.A. from Vassar College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University. He has taught various courses in a variety of disciplines throughout North Carolina. He is committed to increasing the awareness and understanding of the dual diagnosed. In addition to The Brothers’ Keepers, he is the author of Conversations Among Ruins, which features a dual diagnosed protagonist. Currently, he is working on a sequel to The Brothers’ Keepers.

*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency.

Welcome, Matthew, please tell us about your current thriller, The Brothers’ Keepers.
Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write The Brothers' Keepers  for two main reasons. First, The Brothers' Keepers allowed me to capitalize on my love of history, politics, and research. Second, it gave me a chance to examine some of the issues I struggle with on a daily basis: issues of faith, the role of religion in politics, and the role of truth in society. 

It is always said that the two topics one should avoid in polite company are religion and politics. So, it was quite natural for me to write a book that involves both! I really seek to challenge people's views, especially their unquestioned ones regarding established sources of authority, such as the Church and the state. I respect everyone's right to their opinions, but I challenge people to know the reasons behind them. 

Excerpt from The Brothers’ Keepers:
The bus moved up Viadotto and turned right onto Rene. Smells of fried food and burning incense wafted through the open windows of the bus. A left turn brought them to Emilia, past white stone buildings, statues, and street vendors, past the fountains toward the heart of Pisa. The further north they went, the closer they came to the Arno, where a vast migration of darkly-clad figures moved in the opposite direction, southeast toward Rome. It was a black exodus of grief, one of almost unreal proportions; swarms of people with lowered heads and bent postures, heading desperately, slowly, inexorably toward a common ill-fated destination. The dark edges of the black clothes stood out in stark contrast to the gray day that blurred the corners of buildings and churches. Rain fell, blended with human tears, and smudged the scene like a charcoal sketch. Open, dark umbrellas resembled the conical piles of volcanic ash upon which the country was built. On that gray morning Pisa wore a death-mask.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the next book in the Nicholas Branson series. I can’t say too much, because I don’t want to spoil it, but it essentially picks up where the first book leaves off (with about ten months having passed in the interim).

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve considered myself a writer for several years, all through college and graduate school. But at that time I was reading and writing non-fiction. I didn’t start reading fiction seriously until a decade ago. Then in 2011 I changed careers and started writing full-time. I have considered myself a writer ever since.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write full-time. My day varies according to which part of a project I’m working on. On any given day I’ll be: 1) researching, 2) writing, and/or 3) revising. The Branson novels are research intensive. I spend anywhere from six months to a year (or more) researching and developing the story. So if I am at that point in the process, my day consists of getting up very early (usually by 4:00 AM) and reading for up to twelve hours a day, five days a week, sometimes more. If I’m writing, I start my day by writing. However, I only write in the morning, never in the afternoon or evening. Usually, if I am writing I spend the afternoon reading/researching. If I am revising, I get up at the same time and revise for most of the day, as long as I can take it. Intermixed through all of this is social media, and the necessary breaks needed to keep me sane.    

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
You had to ask, huh? Well, I’d say my most obvious quirk is that I wear different hats when I write to help get me out of myself and into my characters. I won’t mention all of them, but I’ll tell you two of my favorites. The first is a PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN hat, complete with dreadlocks. The second is a cap shaped like the head of a grizzly bear. It has ears on top which, when you squeeze, emit a grizzly bear roar.

You literally wear different hats, that’s fun – thanks for sharing!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had a pretty rough childhood. My goal was just to get through it. So I’d say I wanted to be an adult when I grew up. This leads me to my response to your next question.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
There’s an issue I’m passionate about that I’d like to raise awareness of. It’s the issue of dual diagnosis. The term dual diagnosed generally describes a person who has a mood disorder (e.g., depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder), and some form of chemical dependency (e.g., alcoholism, and/or addiction to cocaine, heroin or prescription medication).

Approximately 6 out of 100 Americans have a dual diagnosis.

It is also estimated that 29% of those who suffer emotional/mental disorders have abused substances and that 53% of substance abusers have had a psychiatric problem.
Having a dual diagnosis differs, in terms of recovery, in that it is not just about refraining from alcohol, or taking anti-depressants. It is a synergistic condition where one illness exacerbates the other.

Famous individuals among the dual diagnosed include Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, Sigmund Freud, and Robin Williams. I, myself, am dual diagnosed with major depressive disorder and alcoholism. My mom was, too. My other novel, Conversations Among Ruins, features a protagonist who is dual diagnosed.

I think it is important that we talk about this issue, especially since there is such a stigma attached to each component of the diagnosis—that is, mental illness and chemical dependency. There is nothing to be ashamed about in having a mental illness and/or a chemical dependency. Dual diagnosis is a treatable condition. For more information, please see my website.

Other ways to connect:
Blog | Twitter | Facebook

To purchase the book:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Interview with historical romance author Marisa Dillon

Today’s special guest is Marisa Dillon with the spotlight on her historical romance, The Lady of the Garter.

During her virtual book tour, Marisa will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble 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.

Born in Norway, Marisa was raised in the states and became a U.S. citizen when her Norwegian father became naturalized. Marisa's maternal Italian grandfather, who immigrated to American, gave her the other half of her international roots. 

Growing up, Marisa traveled to Europe many times, once even cross-Atlantic, and was fortunate enough to tour much of the continent, as well as Scandinavia, staying at length with family or in unconventional places, like a nun's convent.

With a degree in journalism, Marisa has spent many years writing for the television industry. As an award-winning producer/director/marketer, she has worked on commercial production, show creation, product branding and social media.

Welcome, Marisa. Please tell us about 
The Lady of the Garter.
The story is set in the late 1400s. The heroine, Lady Elena, is a strong, independent woman determined to achieve two goals: win the heart of Sir James, a knight in the Order of the Garter, and to attain knighthood herself. The story grows as Elena disguises herself as a boy, becomes James’ squire and follows him into battle. But Elena’s determination and strength are tested as she confronts obstacles put in place by her nemesis, the evil Sir Nicholas. The twists and turns lead the reader on a romantic, high-spirited adventure that follows one woman’s pursuit of honor and true love.

What inspired you to write this book?
I love the idea of chivalry and romance mingling together. In the late 15th century, the notion of the knight in shining armor was not a fantasy, but a reality. (If history doesn’t lie).  And as a lover of history and romance, I couldn’t resist researching and then writing about a group of knights who have been revered and served the English monarchy for generations. The Most Noble Order of the Garter was founded in 1348, holds the highest order of chivalry and is the most prestigious group in service to England. Even Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is a Garter Knight today. I used many historical details about the Garter in my story.

Excerpt from The Lady of the Garter:
After pinning her hair up, she undressed quickly, caring little about anything else. She deserved this small indulgence. As she submerged herself up to her shoulders, she exhaled, Heaven on earth. Relaxed to the point of losing herself in happy thoughts, she didn’t hear the door open.

“Squire, I’m ready for my bath.”

Elena gasped when she spotted James staring at her from across the room. His lips twitched; his gaze never leaving her. She folded her arms across her chest, covering her breasts, sinking deeper into the water. My God, what have I done? The moment she’d dreaded most had come true.

James rubbed the back of his neck, then staggered forward. “Are you a gift from the duke? Where is my bloody squire, Edward?” he growled.

He’d obviously drank more than he’d eaten. She could smell the ale. “Your squire left when I arrived to tend to your bath, milord,” she answered. “He promised to return shortly.” 

She hoped the threat of an interruption might keep James’ intensions honorable.

That made him smile. “Is this how you tend to the bath for your guests?” His grin turned wicked. “A bath with you would give me great pleasure,” he admitted, his heated gaze boiling her blood.

“I confess there’s scarcely enough room in here for me.”

Her observation didn’t stop him from fumbling to remove his boots. Then he yanked off his breeches and shirt.

Elena sucked in a nervous breath—she loved seeing him naked. But if she didn’t take control of the situation soon, James would trap her in the tub.

“Come, you can sit on my lap,” he suggested.

She laughed louder than she should have, uncertain of what she wanted. But his smoldering gaze warmed her insides, making her wonder if he didn’t know who she was, what liberties she might take.

She wrung her hands, unsure what to do next. “Turn away and give me a moment of privacy, then I will tend to you.” She stepped out of the tub and draped herself in a towel the boys had left.

“That arse looks familiar. This is not my first time at Berkeley, girl. Pray tell, have we been together before?”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the second in the Garter series that will include a Highlander spin, as well as a standalone story set in Georgian times about a belly dancer. No release dates available yet, but I hope to back to visit here again when they are available.

What are some writing challenges? Joys?
The hardest part of writing for me is revising, which means killing my darlings. That usually happens after I get red lines through some of my paragraphs from my editor. And after I make the changes, which is usually about improving flow, I find that the story is better. I thank God for good editors. The easiest part about writing for me is when I’m not on deadline or under contract, when I can just let my characters talk to me and I can tell their story, pure and simple.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Although new to the publishing world, my passion for writing began when my first-grade teacher read my poem aloud and posted it on the classroom wall. I soon followed up by writing plays for my neighborhood friends and hosting the productions in my garage. After a earning a degree in journalism, I spent many years writing for the television industry, and in my spare time, I dabbled in creative writing. About three years ago, I took a few workshops on how to write a Romance novel. With some great mentors, and a little luck, I found my way to a contracted manuscript. The rest is history.

Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write? My job in the television industry is almost 24/7 and requires me to work sometimes 60+ hours a week. When you want to be published, you have to make the time— lunch hours, weekends, late nights, multi-tasking. I’d like to do this full time. Now, I just need to sell a lot of books. Ha!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I find myself wanting to use the word, then, more often than I should, but I’ve found that’s not uncommon among writers. I’ve discovered a trick with eBooks. You can search a word in anyone’s eBook and see how often the author has used it. For example, Diana Gabaldon, used the word, then, over 500 times in her story, Outlander. My book is not as long, but I used the word 162 times.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actress and a dancer. When I was in middle school and high school, I was a thespian and had parts in many the school plays. I was also on the drill team. When I was getting close to graduation, I tried to convince my parents that I should to go to New York and become a Rockette, and star on Broadway. I was crushed when my mother told me, after researching the group, I was too short to be a Rockette. Still determined to be on stage, I decided on a degree in theatre. But after my first semester at Ohio State, getting beat out of lead roles, I switched my major to journalism. Do you know who was winning all the roles at OSU? Patricia Heaton. She went on to star in movies and TV shows, Everybody Loves Raymond and is currently starring in The Middle on ABC. Maybe sometime in the future, I’ll write a TV episode or film script for Patty and we’ll get to work together again.

Any parting thoughts?
I want to thank your visitors for stopping by today. I wish them many joyous hours of reading ahead in 2015!

The Lady of the Garter is available as an eBook on Amazon.

You can visit Marisa at: And you can connect with Marisa on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks, Marisa!

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Interview with Amazon bestselling novelist James Shipman

Today I’m happy to introduce Amazon best-selling historical fiction author James D. Shipman. We’re talking about his novel, Constantinopolis.

James D. Shipman is a historical fiction author published by Lake Union Publishing. His current title, Constantinopolis will be republished on March 15, 2015. His next title, Going Home, will be published in July 2015. Mr. Shipman is a practicing attorney in the Pacific Northwest. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in history and from Gonzaga University with a law degree. Mr. Shipman has published a number of short stories and poems in addition to these novels and is currently writing a World War II novel set in small town Washington State. He lives with his wife and family north of Seattle.

Welcome, James. Please tell us about Constantinopolis.
Constantinopolis is a historical novel about the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

For over a thousand years, the medieval city of Constantinople has been the jewel on the crown of the Roman Empire. Now, the once-mighty metropolis is broken down, with its defensive walls in shambles. Long have the neighboring Turks wanted to claim the city, and Mehmet—the impetuous new Turkish sultan—thinks he and his legions might finally have their chance. In defiance of his late father’s advisors, Mehmet vows to be the first leader in a millennium to wrench Constantinople from the Christians. He is determined to take the city from the weakened but beloved Emperor Constantine—even if he loses his throne and his life in the process.

An epic historical military adventure, Constantinopolis plots out the future of civilization as shaped by a number of fascinating characters, including one leader desperate to save his people from destruction and another determined to lead his nation to glory.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always been intrigued by medieval history. I found the story of Constantinople particularly fascinating, particularly the epic struggle pitting several hundred thousand Ottoman Turks against less than ten thousand Greek and Italian defenders. The conflict between Islam and Christianity echoes down through the ages and still finds application today.

Excerpt from Constantinopolis:

Mehmet held the twisting adolescent tightly while he drove the dagger deeper into the boy’s throat. Blood pumped from the wound, but Mehmet was behind the body and most of the hot liquid splashed onto the cobblestones. The boy’s muscles convulsed beneath his hands, trying to break free, but Mehmet kept his left arm wrapped tightly around the boy’s waist while his right hand gripped the knife. Soon the body went limp, and he let it slide gently to the ground. He knelt down and wiped the dagger clean on the boy’s robes, then walked on casually into the darkness.

Mehmet waited a moment in the shadows, listening for voices or footsteps, then continued prowling the midnight streets of Edirne. He was dressed in simple clothing that hung loosely on his frame. He was tall, with dark features, a thin hooked nose, and full, almost feminine lips. He was twenty-one, although he appeared older, particularly his eyes, which held a cautious wisdom.

He enjoyed his walks in the dark. He liked Edirne. The city formerly called Adrianople still contained a large Greek population but also was home to an increasing number of Ottomans. The narrow stone streets ambled through mixed neighborhoods with closely huddled residences, opening periodically to the impressive churches and cathedrals now largely converted to mosques. Edirne had served as the capital of the Ottoman Empire since its capture in 1365, taking the distinction from Bursa, in Anatolia. Bursa continued to serve as the religious center of the empire, and contained the tombs of the Ottoman founding fathers: Osman, for whom the empire and people were named, and his son, Orhan.

As Mehmet walked through the sleeping city, he let his thoughts wander, trying to relax. He loved the night—his quiet time to escape. He could mull over the questions and issues he had experienced during the day without the multiple interruptions and problems he was typically forced to address. He needed peace and quiet. He did not trust people, particularly those closest to him. Out here he could let down his guard. He also liked to eavesdrop, seeking information in the shadows that he would never learn otherwise.

At a crossroad, he came across a street sweeper who growled at him to move aside. As Mehmet turned, the sweeper looked into his face and gasped, falling to the ground in prostration. Mehmet sighed in annoyance and again drew his dagger, plunging it deeply into the sweeper’s neck. The man struggled, surprised, blood gurgling from the wound. Mehmet held him to the ground with his knee until he stopped moving, then again wiped his blade clean on his victim’s clothes and continued on. Two tonight. More than typical. He hated these interruptions. Why wouldn’t people simply leave him alone?

As he walked, he strained his ears to pick up conversations that would sometimes emanate from the thin walls of the closely crowded houses. He was searching for the thoughts of the city. He paused at a number of locations to pick up conversations, but he heard nothing of interest. Then, as he passed the outside courtyard of a wealthy merchant’s home, he discovered what he sought.

“Times have changed,” stated a deep voice, speaking Turkish. Mehmet could speak Turkish and Greek, as well as Persian and Arabic.

“What do you mean?” answered another man, with a slightly higher voice. Both spoke the educated Turkish of the middle and upper classes.

“Murad is dead. I think our days of glory are over. At least for now. For a hundred and fifty years our sultans have expanded our empire at the expense of the infidel Christians, but we can hardly expect that to continue.”

“Yes, Allah has favored our people.”

“Until now. We have conquered Anatolia and driven our way far into Europe. We have defeated the Italians and Hungarians and every crusading army sent by the infidels. But how can we hold these gains? With a young sultan who twice had to give power back to his father? Who could not win control of his own household guard? I am afraid he will be driven from power, and we will return to the bad days of civil war among our people.”

“Come now, Ishtek, you are hardly being fair. He was only ten or eleven when he was made sultan the first time. Murad should have kept the sultanate until the boy was ready. I do not agree with you. I think he will do fine. Perhaps he will even be greater than Murad.”

“Bah! You are ever the optimist. I will be content at this point to live out my life in Edirne, without being driven back to Bursa or farther by the Hungarians. Can Mehmet stand up to John Hunyadi? Murad hardly could. I would not be surprised if Hunyadi’s armies were massing in the north right now, ready to strike against us.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
My newest novel is Going Home. Going Home is a Civil War novel based on the true story of Joseph Forsyth. This book examines the effect of codependency and living as the child of an alcoholic in nineteenth century America.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That may have a few different definitions! I thought of myself as a writer in high school when I was writing short stories and poems and had a few published in our school creative writing book. I reached another level in college when I had a couple of poems and short stories published in some small magazines. Fast forwarding quite a bit I felt even more like a writer when I self-published a couple novels and was lucky enough to sell some copies. Finally, I really felt like a writer when I was fortunate enough to be picked up by Lake Union Publishing.

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. I am a full time attorney and mediator. I shove writing into every nook and cranny I’m able to locate. My writing is done mostly with a shoehorn.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I would say how I fit in my writing is pretty quirky. I do much of my writing hunched over my laptop in my car waiting for my kids’ sporting events to start. In the summer I will also sit out at the sports fields in my camping chair and type away. I’m sure the other parents think I’m out of my mind. I just don’t have a lot of other time to write. I usually take one vacation where I’ll try to write as much as possible, but other than that I’m fitting my writing in wherever I can jam it.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a military officer, a history teacher, a writer and an attorney. I ended up with a history degree and went to law school. The only thing I missed entirely was the chance to serve in the military, but three out of four is pretty good!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I encourage anyone who is interested in writing to jump into the fray and live out their dreams. Just remember it’s a little like making sausage, particularly at first.

Thank you, James!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Special excerpt for YA contemporary novel Wish by Grier Cooper

Welcome. Today’s spotlight shines on the YA contemporary novel Wish by Grier Cooper.

During her virtual book tour, Grier will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble 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.

Grier Cooper (also known as the writer in a dancer's body) is a California based writer, photographer, and dancer. She received her professional training from the School of American Ballet and performed worldwide with the San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Today she lives in a seaside hamlet with her husband, daughter and Coco Chanel (a black standard poodle). She draws on over thirty years of experience as a dancer, teacher and performer to create stories and art to inspire others.

A little bit about Wish:
For Indigo Stevens, ballet classes at Miss Roberta’s ballet studio offer the stability and structure that are missing from her crazy home life. At almost 16, she hopes this is the year she will be accepted into the New York School of Ballet. First she must prove she’s ready, and that means ignoring Jesse Sanders – the cute boy with dimples who is definitely at the top of Miss Roberta’s List of Forbidden Things for Dancers.

But Jesse is the least of Indigo’s concerns. When she discovers her mom is an alcoholic, it simultaneously explains everything and heaps more worry on Indigo’s shoulders. As her mom’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, Indigo fights to maintain balance, protect her younger brothers from abuse, and keep her mother from going over the edge. When the violence at home escalates, Indigo realizes she can no longer dance around the issue. At the risk of losing everything, she must take matters into her own hands before it’s too late.

Excerpt from Wish:
Headlights appear and we both turn our heads. The car screeches to a stop inches away from our feet. The passenger window rolls down. “Hurry up and get in,” Mom says. “Mrs. LaRue is watching your brothers. We have to jet.” It’s the freaking Christmas voice.

She eyes Jesse. “Oh,” she says. “Who do we have here?”

Why me? “Mom, you know Jesse. Jesse Sanders. Remember?”

“Right.” Her hand flies to her mouth dramatically, like she’s starring in her own private soap opera. She giggles. “Of course I do.”

I quickly get in. “We should go. Right, Mom?”

She giggles again. I roll my eyes as I close the window. Jesse smiles sympathetically.

Mom guns it and I fall back against my seat. “How was rehearsal, sweetie?” She swivels her head to look at me.

Right then, I know we are headed for trouble. “Mom! Mom, look out!”

There’s a tremendous thud as she drives onto the turnaround island in the middle of the driveway. The car bucks and lurches sideways. My head whips back against the seat rest.

“Jesus, Mom! You just drove on the island!”

She giggles in response. “Now, Indy, you know I don’t see well at night.”

“Mom, hey! Slow down!”

She doesn’t break speed as the car crashes down off the island. She pulls a Hollywood stop on her way out of the driveway, narrowly missing an oncoming car. The driver leans on his horn but she doesn’t even seem to notice.

“Are you hungry?” she asks. “Cuz I’m hungry.”

I stare at her like the four-wheeling lunatic I now know her to be.

And Jesse saw the whole thing.


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