Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Interview with paranormal mystery author Ally Shields

Novelist Ally Shields is in the hot seat today and we’re talking about her new romantic paranormal mystery, Ghost Witching (Maggie York Paranormal Mystery Book Two).

During her virtual book tour, Ally will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Ally Shields grew up in the Midwest along the Mississippi River, still considers herself "a river rat," and currently resides near Des Moines. After a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time fiction writing in 2009. Her first urban fantasy, Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1) was published in 2012, and she currently has twelve published novels. She loves to travel in the US and abroad and incorporates many of those settings into her books. Ms. Shields welcomes reader contact through her website and can frequently be found on Twitter.

Welcome, Ally. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Ghost Witching is book two in the Maggie York Paranormal Mystery series set in New Orleans. Up until a year ago, Maggie was a homicide cop at the top of her game. When she was struck by a sniper's bullet, she coded twice but was brought back in the ER. Only everything had changed. Now she sees ghosts of murder victims who expect her to solve their untimely deaths. Her new gift is especially hard to accept when she doesn't believe in ghosts or magic.

What inspired you to write this book?
I love mysteries with a touch of romance...and paranormals...and New Orleans. It seemed like a no-brainer to put them together! As for the actual plot, my characters come first, and they tell me their story, the kinds of things people with their skills and personalities would get into. That was very true of Maggie, a hard-nosed cop who'd suddenly had her life turned upside down.

Excerpt from Ghost Witching:
Maggie sat cross-legged in the witches' circle, listening to the night sounds of the Louisiana swamp giving way to a hazy dawn. The sluggish air failed to stir the moss-hung cypress trees, and humidity clung to her skin. It would be another scorcher.

Her candle flickered, and she turned it to allow more of the wax to trickle down the side. How had her life evolved to include this? A year ago the hard-nosed cop in her would have scoffed at the idea covens actually existed. Now she was part of one. Not that she'd bought the whole occult package, but her denials rang hollow in the face of collaborating with a ghost to track down a killer. Nor could she explain away the knowledge her distant relatives, Dalia and Selena, gleaned from the Beyond.

Dalia's hard stare brought Maggie's attention back to the circle of thirteen. Spooky how the quiet, unpretentious woman knew things…like Maggie's wandering thoughts. She raised her candle in unison with the others as Selena spoke the words approaching the end of the blessing ceremony.

In contrast to Dalia's petite form, Selena was larger than life, literally and figuratively. The priestess raised her arms, her long, ashen hair braid falling over her shoulder, the white muumuu fluttering in the morning air like a giant bird about to ascend. Her voice matched her size, echoing around the clearing, bringing Maggie and the other participants to their feet.

Although Maggie wasn't positive the white witch rite actually did anything, attendance at coven ceremonies had been one of Selena's requirements for teaching her how to assert greater control over the ghostly apparitions who were bound to make more appearances in Maggie's future. The old woman had been particularly insistent tonight, piquing Maggie's curiosity. And a little apprehension. Had Selena had another of her visions, possibly foretelling trouble in the near future? When asked, her cousin had given a typically cryptic answer. "Good and evil are always in motion."

Which told her nothing new. Maggie sighed, darting a glance at the focused women around her. No matter. The future wouldn't be changed by worrying. Besides, she had no real objection to being here and supporting the coven's hopes of healing one member's gravely ill four-year-old niece, for a laid-off worker to find a new job, and a universal plea for greater wisdom. They could all use a dose of that.

While calling upon the Goddess to bless and protect them, Selena made a three-sixty turn, her gown billowing as she included every participant. Maggie suddenly stiffened and peered behind her cousin. Had something dark and wispy swooped past? No, of course not. The lifting dawn mist had fired her overactive imagination.

Yet her heart beat a bit faster, and she joined in the final lines of the closing chant with more gravity than usual.

"In calm or stormy days to come, light our pathways safely home.
Gracious Goddess, grant our plea. So mote it be."

Maggie was tempted to add an "Amen" for good measure.

As they blew out their candles, her cell phone buzzed. She checked the screen. Police dispatch. Her real world snapped back into place. While they'd been surrounded by the hope inherent in these pre-dawn gatherings, someone else had committed the most grievous assault upon society…the murder of one of its citizens.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The seven-book Guardian Witch urban fantasy series was completed in March 2015. My publisher has requested a series sequel (it may actually be 3-4 books). The first draft was mostly completed during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. I'm currently rewriting and smoothing out the rough edges. If I meet my deadlines, Embers of Fire (Guardian Witch Legacy #1) should be released by Etopia Press in the first part of 2017.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1) was published as an ebook in September 2012. By December I held a paperback copy in my hands. It's still hard to believe, and I pinch myself at times.

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'm a full-time writer, although I'd be biting my fingernails from month to month if I had to live on my royalties.

I write every day, but my schedule is flexible. I'm not a morning person, so writing often doesn't start until nine or ten o'clock and may continue until one or two the next morning. I often come and go during the day, always returning to the computer until I have completed the day's goal: 2k new words on a first draft; 30 pages on rewrite; 70 pages of editing/proofing. These goals will vary if I'm ahead of or behind schedule. I always have a schedule.

My writer's cave—office—is where I do ninety-nine percent of my writing surrounded by an extra computer and numerous books for research. I outline as I go and jot hundreds of notes!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have an incurable tendency to show expressions and emotions by use of the word "brow"—"quirked his brow," "lifted, raised or arched her brow," "lowered his brows." Well, you get it. I do a special search to cut down the numbers before submitting every manuscript.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A musketeer, a rock star, and a foreign journalist—all before age ten. I actually became an English teacher, an attorney, and finally a writer.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Only how grateful I am to those who read my series. Without their support, I couldn't keep doing what I love to do—or at least it wouldn't be published. Thank you. As long as you keep reading, I'll keep writing.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Mai T. said...

Can you describe in one sentence what makes your stories so unique?

Unknown said...

Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

Unknown said...

Thanks, Lisa Haselton, for hosting my book!
Good luck to Mai T and Lisa Brown in the drawing. I appreciate you both for stopping. And what makes my stories unique? Maggie is a human cop who has lived 28 years without believing in ghosts or magic and has no intention of accepting it now.

Cali W. said...

Thanks for the giveaway; I like the excerpt. :)

Bernie Wallace said...

What books are you looking to read in 2017? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Victoria Alexander said...

Great post - I enjoyed reading it :)

Unknown said...

Cali, Bernie, and Victoria, thanks for joining the tour. Good luck to you all. Bernie, the next book on my TBR list is David Baldacci's No Man's Land.