Friday, April 28, 2017

Interview with contemporary romance author Emily Mims

Romance author Emily Mims is here today and we’re chatting about her new contemporary novel, Smoke.

During her virtual book tour, Emily will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card. 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.

Author of thirty romance novels, Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time. The mother of two sons and grandmother of six, she and her husband Charles live in central Texas but frequently visit grandchildren in eastern Tennessee and Georgia. She plays the piano, organ, dulcimer, and ukulele and belongs to two performing bands. She says, “I love to write romances because I believe in them. Romance happened to me and it can happen to any woman-if she’ll just let it.”

Welcome, Emily. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Smoke is the second offering in the Smoky Blue series. Concert violinist Francesca Giordano is hiding out from her would-be assassins by posing as a bluegrass fiddler. She finds herself falling for the much older, charismatic bluegrass singer Cooper Barstow, knowing she can’t stay with him forever.

What inspired you to write this book?
Each book in the Smoky Blue series features a heroine who plays a different instrument. I thought it would be fun for the fiddler to have a ‘fish out of water’ story.

Excerpt from Smoke:
Cooper hit his front door and took the quickest shower on record. Still, he was almost a half hour late by the time he pulled into Chessie’s driveway. Hopefully she would understand. He was about halfway across the yard when he heard music coming from somewhere inside the house. He slowed down and stopped, listening in astonishment to the outpouring of a violin, a violin in the hands of an incredibly gifted musician. Who was playing the violin? Was Chessie a closet classical music fan? Was that a recording, or was that Chessie herself making this incredible music?
            Cooper glanced in the window and his mouth fell open. It was Chessie. She was standing in front of the window in her pink cotton robe, her fingers flying over the strings so fast they were a blur and her bow moving nimbly over the strings as she made that violin sing. It was Chessie making that incredible music. Music that Jake never in a million years could have made. Music that he himself could never have made. Music that required more talent and technique that she would ever need as a bluegrass fiddler. Music that somehow seemed strangely familiar, even though he didn’t think he’d ever heard it before. Cooper suddenly thought back to his initial reaction to her, the first time he heard her play. He wondered then why a woman of her talent played bluegrass music.
            Now he knew. She didn’t play just bluegrass music. She played classical music too. And she played it wonderfully.
            Chessie Hope was not the simple bluegrass musician she presented herself to be.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My fourth book in the Smoky Blue series is with my beta reader. I have written plots for four more to be written in the next year and a half.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
July of 1982 when Anne Gisony of Candlelight Ecstasy called me offering me a contract for ‘Portrait of my Love’.

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’ in that I’m retired from public education. I don’t spend a full day at the word processor, however. My prime writing hours are between one and six in the afternoon, maybe seven if I’m on a roll, and I seldom work more than three or four hours during that time period. If I’m writing plot I don’t work anywhere near that long.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Nearly every hero I’ve ever written has been based in some way on my husband. He’s a sweetheart of a man and my heroes tend to be that way also.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a young girl, I dreamed of being a teacher. I briefly flirted with being a doctor when I was in college, but did my student teaching and fell in love with the classroom. (Interesting story here. I never even considered writing as a child. I took one creative writing course in college. The professors told me I had no talent and to go back to the science department. I invited them to my first autograph party. They came.)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I love writing! I hope that shows in my work.

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Thank you for being a guest on my blog today!

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Interview with paranormal romance author Linda Nightingale

Romance author Linda Nightingale joins me today and we’re chatting about her new paranormal book, Her General in Gray

During her virtual book tour, Linda will be awarding black diamond earrings and an e-book of Her General in Gray (International Giveaway) to one winner, and a second winner will receive a digital choice of one of the author's backlist during the tour. Both winners will be randomly chosen. 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 South Carolina, Linda has lived in England, Canada, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta and Houston. She’s seen a lot of this country from the windshield of a truck pulling a horse trailer, having bred, trained and showed Andalusian horses for many years.

Linda has won several writing awards, including the Georgia Romance Writers Magnolia Award and the SARA Merritt. She is the mother of two wonderful sons, a retired legal assistant, member of the Houston Miata Club, and enjoys events with that car club. Among her favorite things are her snazzy black convertible and her parlor grand piano. She loves to dress up and host formal dinner parties.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Her General in Gray is not so much about the Civil War as it is about a woman and a ghost—like the Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a movie starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison, made in 1947, the same year I was born. I saw it later when I was a toddler. The movie is the inspiration for Her General in Gray. I wrote the story in response to a call for ghost stories from The Wild Rose Press and set it in one of my favorite places—Charleston, South Carolina, and the surrounding area which is called the Low Country—where Spanish moss festoons the giant oaks and crickets sink at night while fireflies wink.

Excerpt from Her General in Gray:
“Stand aside, spook.” Dudley marched into the room, made as if to push past him, but Sib stood his ground. Folding his hands in supplication, he begged the woman he’d wounded to understand. “God knows, Autumn, I didn’t mean to hurt you. The whole ugly thing is his fault.” His finger jutted at Sib. “If he hadn’t challenged me to a duel—”

Grabbing the other man by his knit shirt, Sib prepared to frog march him back the way he’d just come. “She doesn’t want to see you, Dudley. Your very presence is disturbing and harmful.”

“Let her be the judge of that.” Dudley tried to wrest free.

From the bed came a weak cry that froze them in place. “Stop it.  You’re both upsetting me. The two of you in one room mix as well as oil and water. Sib, leave. Beau, stay.”

Sib freed Dudley, turning to gape at Autumn. Why was she ordering him out, siding with, the traitor? The redhead dusted off his clothing and straightened his shirt. His triumphant expression tempted Sib to smash a fist into his mouth, wiping away his gloating smile.  Instead, he offered Autumn a quick bow.

“I’ll be outside the door if you need me.” Why had he given this stranger the power to so damage his feelings? Because she can call me into corporeality? Perhaps, being a ghost wasn’t as bad as he’d thought. That she should take his killer’s side hurt more than he believed possible.

She nodded, refusing to meet the question in his eyes.  He spun on his heel, walked calmly across the room, and closed the door without looking back.

But Sib left a vital part of his heart in that sickroom.

What exciting story are you working on next?
A sequel to my book Love for Sale about sentient androids indistinguishable from human, with human emotions, and programmed to love. The sequel is Life for Sale. It is coming along slowly because life gets in the way. I’m also in the galley stage for Gylded Wings. In GW, the most famous angel of all tells the story in first person. It is a dark fantasy from the Black Rose line of The Wild Rose Press.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote as a youngster, received some very unkind criticism, and didn’t pick my pen back up for over 30 years. My first book was published in 2012, and that’s when I considered myself an author.

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 retired legal assistant and am lucky enough to be able to write full-time. I also write copy for an advertising agency and that can be challenging while at the same time fun. My typical workday varies depending on life and work for the agency. Sometimes, I might not write for days and some days I am able to write the entire day. I write best early in the morning—say 3 or 4 AM.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like wine with my meals and wine with my writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A famous horsewoman.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I bred, trained and showed the magnificent Andalusian horse and almost but not quite achieved my childhood goal.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog today!
Thank you for allowing Sib, Autumn and me to guest on your lovely blog.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Interview with paranormal romance author Maya Tyler

Paranormal romance author Maya Tyler is here today and we’re chatting about her new book, A Vampire’s Tale.

During her virtual book tour, Maya will be awarding a $25 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 of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Maya Tyler, wife and mother of two boys, writes paranormal romance with a twist. Her debut novella Dream Hunter was released in December 2014. Her second novel A Vampire’s Tale released on March 22, 2017. She’s a romantic and believes in happily-ever-after. Being an author is her lifelong dream. She enjoys reading, music (alternative rock, especially from the 90’s), yoga, movies and TV, and spending her free time writing and blogging at Maya’s Musings.
Please share a little bit about your current release.
A Vampire’s Tale focuses on heroine Marisa Clements who is a struggling writer. Unknown to her, a paranormal skeptic, a vampire has been influencing her life path. This is not any ordinary vampire. Corgan Halton is ancient and powerful with the ability to see the future. He wants to tell his story and end his life. He chooses Marisa to author his tale. But his presence in her life puts her into danger, the helpless target for Corgan's enemies. It takes a coordinated group (of wizards and vampires) effort to fight the enemy. During the progression of the story, Marisa and Corgan fall in love - the emotions intensified by the high-pressure, dangerous situation they find themselves in.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always been fascinated with vampires. I’ve read the books, and watched countless movies and TV shows about them. They are fascinating creatures and, despite their blood-thirsty, murderous natures, Hollywood casts them as heroes. Every author has their own version. From “sleep in a coffin during the day and hunt at night” to the possibilities of day-walking and reproduction. Than you factor in their interactions with other supernaturals… I think some of the concepts bear more merit than others so I, too, created my own version.

Excerpt A Vampire’s Tale:
Marisa’s mind raced… “This is unbelievable.”

“What?” Corgan smirked. “The little you actually know about vampires?”

“For your information, I can tell the difference between truth and the Hollywood version.”

Corgan looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

“I can,” she insisted. “No coffins, blood with healing properties, flying, super speed, super strength, immortal, mind-reading, fortune-telling, death by sun…” She looked at him and tilted her head. “Why couldn't I compel you to leave my apartment that first night?”

“You could have, if that's what you'd really wanted.”


“Can anyone enter the home of a vampire then?”

“Only if the property is in the name of an undead.”

“Is yours?”


“Oh. What about holy water, wooden stakes…”

He laughed. “Are you thinking of doing me in?”

“No,” she gasped in horror. “I would never—”

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next project may very well be a sequel to A Vampire’s Tale… I’m also working on a prequel to my first paranormal romance Dream Hunter.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I first became published in 2014. Before I published a book, I wrote stories and I blogged, but it was more of a hobby. I still write as a past-time, but now I have an author platform – website, blog, social media presence – and it’s evolved into more than a sideline project.

Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full-time… I have two busy little boys who occupy most of my time. My family is definitely my priority. I make time for other interests like rock concerts and musical theatre. Writing time is carved out of “my time” either early morning or after the kids go to bed.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? I love clichés and often work them into my stories, even if they are ultimately omitted during editing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Writer, actress, lawyer, in that order. I ended up going to business school.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers? I love visitors and you can reach me through my website or by e-mail


Buy links:
Amazon | Smashwords | Apple | Kobo | Nook

Thank you for being a guest on my blog! 
Thank you so much for having me!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Interview with YA author Gene Scott

Author Gene Scott joins me today and we’re talking about his YA literary fiction book Jellybeaners.

Gene Scott, a retired English and reading teacher, was born and raised on the prairie of Western Illinois, and has lived in Johnson City, Tennessee for thirty years with his much better half, Lana.

Welcome, Gene. Please tell us about your current release.
Here’s the blurb that describes the topic:

“The scourge of opiate addiction is deeply woven throughout world history, and the U.S. Civil War alone created roughly 200,000 addicts who spent their remaining years navigating shattered limbs and unstable minds.

…Fast-forward a century-and-a-half.

A 2014 report in in the American Society of Addiction Medicine revealed that 1.9 million Americans were addicted to prescription opioids, and that 18,893 lost their lives to opium-based pill prescription that single calendar year. Fifty-one American lives are lost each day.

Jellybeaners is a contemporary novel set in the heart of Appalachia, revealing the money ties, political corruption, wasted lives, and overall cash-churning nature of the prescription pill culture from perspectives spanning both sides of the law.”

The audience? Young adult readers with a literary bent and a thirst for knowledge about the intricacies of the pill mill trade.

What inspired you to write this book?
First, I’m an avid motorcyclist attempted to ride the TAT – the Trans America Trail – running from Tellico Plains, Tennessee to Portland, Oregon. The one trail supposedly composed of dirt roads cutting clear across America.

Two buddies and I took off on this adventure in the spring of 2013 thinking we’d cover Tennessee and Mississippi first and then would decide if we wanted to continue.

But the East Tennessee section is mostly crumbling asphalt country roads.

I rode a 650cc Honda dirt bike with knobby tires – thinking we’d be on dirt -- and while dropping down a steep asphalt stretch near Estill Springs, Tennessee I touched the rear brake (the road was slick after a light rain on the oily tarmac) and went down, shattering my left knee replacement. The accident occurred on the same day as the Boston Marathon Bombing, so I felt little sympathy for myself as I watched people with missing limbs successfully rebuild their lives as I rehabbed. Inspiration!

This was my first serious motorcycle accident in forty-five years of riding, but it taught me a valuable lesson.

Anyway, I fell in love with the Cherohala Parkway and Tellico Plains, which became the setting for Jellybeaners (“Kituwah Falls”) due to its natural beauty and proximity to Knoxville, the pill mill epicenter of East Tennessee.

Secondly, during the evolution of this novel, our family lost two friends to opioid addiction, both in their early twenties, both brilliant, handsome, career-minded men who would have contributed much to society. One was an artist, the other a just-graduated aeronautical engineer.

That sealed the deal.

If I could research this issue, put out the facts, and help people cope with the situation through the experience of these characters, it would be worth the effort.

Then a bizarre thing happened.

Two imaginary antagonists – Odessa Blankenship, the Knoxville pill mill queen, and her minion, the Falstaffian Lucinda Hornback – literally uncloaked and fell headlong out onto the front page of the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Real-life Sylvia Hofstetter was arrested and indicted in March of 2015 – exactly two years after I began researching opioids – for running a $12 million dollar prescription pill operation, which ended up taking at least nine lives.


But since I’d started the book in 2013 and Sylvia’s evil empire emerged two years later – and was significantly different in several ways – I went ahead and published. Most of my research came from Georgia and Chattanooga newspapers reporting on a Dalton, Georgia bust before the pill mills actually migrated north into database-free pill-hungry East Tennessee.

Hofstetter sits in jail awaiting trial; Odessa, smarter and savvier, escaped to Cuba with her drug patróns, husband, and miniature Chihuahua Buladeen. There are many differences between the real and the imagined in this novel, but it makes my hackles rise whenever I think about how writers often conjure what’s really happening out there through interviewing people, digging through libraries, and reading regional newspapers.

For example, the government investigated Tom Clancy – a bored insurance salesman who cranked a blank piece of paper into his office typewriter for kicks and started writing The Hunt for Red October – because it appeared he held access to unauthorized information. But they dropped all charges when he proved to them that he’d pulled it all together at the library.

Which is possible due to the openness of American society and the Freedom of Information Act. May the current assault on our free access to information die a natural death; these are scary times, indeed. Fake news! Once Hitler controlled the media, it was over for Europe. We must remain vigilant.

Unfortunately, Jellybeaners will remain topical for years because opioid addiction is now being treated with: opioids. Which is quite controversial in Johnson City, where I live, as methadone and suboxone clinics are popping up like spring mushrooms.

Excerpt from Jellybeaners:
The bent, rundown shack, patched and cobbled with gray pieces of crating and splintering brown pallet board, windows covered with ripped opaque plastic, squats in a heap off Stout Street, coal smoke twisting out its chimney like vapor from an ebony nostril.

Three children wail hysterically, run in circles, pull their hair, and scream at their father, resting on his knees beside the dilapidated rust-brown ’92 Plymouth Horizon, the driver’s door flung open.

A school bus squeaks to a halt and four children bounce off, stop in their tracks, and stare open-mouthed at the scene.

Vane Sarge Walker pulls up in his beat-brown 2001 Chevrolet pickup. A trained emergency medical technician, volunteer firefighter, long-retired military serviceman, and recently retired Forest Service ranger, he lives nearby on a fourth-generation family farm.

The Mount Vernon Volunteer Fire Department’s red-light-flashing, chartreuse EMS vehicle approaches, the wail of its siren whining faintly, building in slow crescendo as it roars down the twisting mountain valley cut by the ancient Tellico River, which falls down the mountain grade toward the village of Kituwah Falls.

The dirt driveway, strewn with clinkers— cindery particulate chunks of burnt coal dragged out of the leaky furnace and tossed into the potholed driveway— steal Sarge's attention.

A homemade doll mother Sizer crafted and gifted her three-year-old Ashley the previous Christmas sits with its broken neck propped against the largest clinker, the head mashed flat.

Jumping out of his pickup, Sarge purposefully fixates on the doll, briefly ignoring the cacophony, takes a few seconds to collect his wits, and then slowly turns to face the inevitable.

The toy’s face, black-button eyes fixed on eternity, glistens wet-red in the short March dusk, staring directly into a gunmetal sky. A dirty-black tire track ends at its chin.

Sarge can neither swallow the sob nor fight back the wave of salt water cascading down the stubble on his cheeks before he turns to face the disemboweled heap lying in the driveway beside the driver, wrapping, then unwrapping his arms across his chest, choking between screams.

Poor Ashley. One more notch on the pill mill tree of shame, thought Sarge.

This couldn’t go on. Someone had to put a stop to this…

We’re going to pull those sonsabitches out by the roots, come Memorial Day.

Studying a raven circling high over the ridgeline to the east, he swore to himself:

Or die trying.


What exciting story are you working on next?
A novel based on a true story titled, Packages.

An East Tennessee high school kid (who just happens to love motorcycles) grows up in a wonderful small town where life is good and expectations are high. He enjoys excellent parents and a spiritually sensitive sister.

However, packages start arriving addressed to his friends in the neighborhood, packages mailed from Thailand holding return addresses from the older boys in the neighborhood – brothers, cousins, and friends -- now stationed in Vietnam.

Suddenly, the landscape changes and readers are taken for a ride through the late Sixties that will make their hair stand on end.

Think “Born of the Fourth of July” meets “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I tore the meniscus in my left knee back in high school, I couldn’t play sports my senior year, so I covered local events for the local hometown paper.
My basketball coach – magnanimously -- encouraged me to write.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your workday like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a retired English teacher. Wanted to be a journalist, but the school I attended – a regional university – sported a weekly newspaper and a journalism faculty riddled with dementia, poor geezers with cigarettes twitching in their lips and ancient coffee stains on their shirts.

The English faculty was at least twenty years younger and hot-to-teach, so I gravitated into their arms. One professor, from Estonia, knew six languages. One time I was in his office, and while he looked at my work, his children would wander in one-at-a-time and he’d address them – each in a different language, while he explained the Greek derivation of words I was using. We take our public education for granted, I think.

So I ended up teaching English and reading for nearly three decades, and now spend about a third of my free time putting words on paper. Volunteer work, motorcycling, photography, and travel eat up the remainder.

I write with a pen in the morning to slow my brain down, and then expand upon those ideas with the keyboard in the afternoon.

The first draft then undergoes massive editing. Jellybeaners was originally 90k words, but I cut it to 65k before sending it to Vince Dickinson, my editor, who cut it to 60k. By the time the second editor, Zee Mondee was finished, we published at 52,000 words.

Personally, I believe a lot of Indie novels dilute the market because they are not professionally edited.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure how to answer that, so I’ll speak to what I believe is a common rookie mistake for beginning novelists like myself. Once you get into the groove as a writer, and the words flow with ease, you realize you’re a little mini-god -- small g-- and immediately your pages become overcrowded with characters and backstory. It’s a temptation that most novelists have to tame.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A policeman. Motorcycles! Guns! Chases!

But when the reality of the profession struck home -- especially after I read The Onion Field by Joseph Wambaugh -- I decided that reading and writing about motorcycles, guns, and car crashes might be more pragmatic.

Not that I don’t admire people who put themselves in the line of fire for our safety. God bless the great majority of these peacekeepers, who are highly professional and responsible. Like always, it only takes one turd to mess up the whole punch bowl.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m sixty-years old and still dreaming, still looking for the next adventure. The only limit to what you can do lies between your ears.

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Thank you for being here today, Gene!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Interview with dark fiction author Michael Phillip Cash

Dark fiction author Michael Phillip Cash joins me today to talk about his newest ghost, haunted house novel, The Flip.

During his virtual book tour, Michael will be awarding a $10 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 of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there too!

Michael Phillip Cash is an award winning and best-selling author of horror, paranormal, and science fiction novels.

He's written ten books, including the best-selling Brood X, Stillwell, The Flip, The After House, The Hanging Tree, Witches Protection Program, Pokergeist, The History Major and the Battle for Darracia series. Michael’s books are on the Amazon best-seller list and have also won numerous awards. Additionally, he is a screenwriter with 14 specs under his belt. Michael resides on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island, The Hanging Tree, and Schism: The Battle for Darracia have all been named to Foreward Reviews Book of the Year Awards. His newest book, The History Major, has been taking readers and reviewers by storm.

Welcome, Michael. Please share a little bit about The Flip.
Julie and Brad Evans are house flippers. They buy low, clean out the old occupants junk, and try to make a profit. Enter Hemmings House on Bedlam Street in scenic Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. Too good a deal to pass up, but with an ominous secret. The old Victorian Mansion has dwellers that do not want to be dispossessed. As the house reveals its past, will the couple's marriage survive The Flip?

What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by the idea of what impact we have in creating our destiny.

Excerpt from The Flip:
Julie started demolition on a bathroom in one of the many bedrooms. She needed to lose herself in some work. She was losing her mind. Images of last night with her husband played like a movie in her head. The bodies were familiar, yet at the same time, they were not. The whole episode had a dreamlike quality, and for now, Julie wasn’t sure what part of what they had done was real or from her imagination. It was better to keep busy, think about things to keep her occupied, so her head wouldn’t explode.

She trudged upstairs and started working in the first of the guest bedrooms. It was an en suite, perfect for a bed-and breakfast. Why couldn’t Brad see that? she wondered. She lifted out the toilet, carefully pulled a rusty medicine cabinet from the wall, and started chopping at tiles on the floor, both of her tiny hands whacking away with a giant mallet. They had decided that nothing was salvageable in this bath. She dragged the fixtures out of the small bathroom to a cleared corner in the bedroom. It was hot. Sweat trickled down her back. She was wearing an oversized T-shirt and yoga pants from Target. She fanned herself, smiling when she thought of the pretty ladies’ fan in her makeshift bedroom. Julie went to the window. The trees surrounding the house were painted amber, red, and yellow. A breeze ruffled the branches, and Julie wanted to air out the stuffy room.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now I’m working on the idea of super powers. Are they inborn and not developed or are they just a myth?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been writing (albeit poorly) since I was 15 years old. It wasn’t until 10 years ago that I started self-publishing my own work and became an author. I will be publishing all new work under my real name Michael Okon.

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?
Yes, my day begins with research and development on the subject I’m working on. I research and plot out my character arcs. After my wife and kids go to sleep I write till midnight, every day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
TV must be on mute in the background. Either on Food Network, Travel Channel or a movie I love.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A movie director. The dream never died.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
My book Monsterland was just picked up in a two-book publishing deal that will be out late 2017.

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Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Interview with novelist Kate Brandes

Novelist Kate Brandes joins me today to talk about her newest women’s fiction, The Promise of Pierson Orchard.

During her virtual book tour, Kate will be awarding a $25 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 of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

An environmental scientist with over 20 years of experience, Kate Brandes is also a watercolor painter and a writer of women’s fiction with an environmental bent. Her short stories have been published in The Binnacle, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Grey Sparrow Journal. Kate is a member of the Arts Community of Easton (ACE), the Lehigh Art Alliance, Artsbridge, the Pennwriters, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Kate lives in a small town along the Delaware River with her husband, David, and their two sons. When she’s not working, she’s outside on the river or chasing wildflowers.

Welcome, Kate. Please share a little bit about your current release.
This story is Erin Brockovich meets Promised Land, about a Pennsylvania family threatened by betrayal, financial desperation, old flames, fracking, and ultimately finding forgiveness.

In the novel, Green Energy arrives, offering the impoverished rural community of Minden, Pennsylvania, the dream of making more money from their land by leasing natural gas rights for drilling. But orchardist, Jack Pierson, fears his brother, Wade, who now works for Green Energy, has returned to town after a shame-filled twenty-year absence so desperate to be the hero that he’ll blind their hometown to the potential dangers. Jack also worries his brother will try to rekindle his relationship with LeeAnn, Jack’s wife, who’s recently left him. To protect his hometown and to fulfill a promise to himself, Jack seeks out his mother and environmental lawyer Stella Brantley, who abandoned Minden—and Jack and Wade–years ago.

When LeeAnn’s parents have good reason to lease their land, but their decision leads to tragedy, Jack must fight to find a common ground that will save his fractured family, their land, and the way of life they love.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve spent most of my career, not as a writer, but as an environmental scientist. I didn’t start writing creatively until I was in my mid-thirties. I’ve always loved stories about complicated families and relationships. When I learned about fracking through my environmental science career, one of my first thoughts was that it would make a great metaphor in a novel about a fractured family.

Excerpt from The Promise of Pierson Orchard:
“A brand new black pickup was parked between LeeAnn’s red Chevy and Jack’s old beater. A man stood beside it, with his hand raised in greeting, but he said nothing more. Coming from the bright light of the barn into the dusk prevented Jack from making out the man’s face. Jack stared in his direction. Some tug of memory caused him to hesitate. There was something familiar about the slight curl in his shoulders.
LeeAnn emerged from the edge of the orchard and the man turned at the sound of her boots on the gravel drive. “LeeAnn?” the man said.
She stopped. “Wade Pierson?” She hesitated a moment more and then walked slowly toward him. “Is it really you?”
There, right in front of him, was his brother. Wade. Back after twenty years. He was still alive, at least. Wade’s arms encircled LeeAnn.
Jack clenched his fists and went back into the barn. He offloaded the fruit from the wagon, bruising most of it. He washed apples with shaky hands and then crushed them for the cider press. LeeAnn and Wade came through the doorway.
“Jack, look who’s here.” Jack glanced up and then couldn’t take his eyes from his brother’s face for a long moment. He wasn’t a sixteen year-old kid anymore. He’d grown taller than Jack and filled out. Damn if he didn’t look even more like their dad now, with that same dark red hair and fair skin. That curl of the shoulder used to give Wade the look of someone unsure of whether he belonged. But now Wade stood there smiling, like he would be welcome. Like he could just show up after all this time with as much warning as he gave on the night he left.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m at work on my second novel, partly inspired by Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang. It will be another book club fiction novel with an eco-bent, but it’s a completely different story from my first novel.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s an interesting question. Since I’ve spent my career as a scientist, it took me a long time to think of myself as a writer and not to refer to my writing life as a “hobby.” Honestly, it’s taken me more than a decade and a publishing contract to truly feel like I could call 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 don’t write full time. I still work part-time as an environmental scientist. I write when I can, which is usually in the early morning hours before the rest of the world is awake.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to draft long hand with a notebook and pen. For whatever reason, the story comes out deeper and more fully formed if I begin with paper and pen.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A geologist. Then I grew up and became a geologist. I’ve also always loved fiction and words, so it seems inevitable now that I would figure out a way to become a writer too.

Anything else you’d like to share with the readers?
Bookclub Giveaway: In celebration of my upcoming book launch, I'm offering 8 signed paperback copies, 8 small prizes, a $25 Amazon gift card and a list of book-related discussion questions to one lucky book club member to share with your club. All you have to do to enter is tell one person about the book and sign up here. Contest runs through my book launch date, April 22, 2017. The winner will be announced the following day! Good luck!


Thank you for being a guest on my blog today, Kate!
Thank you so much for having me!

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Interview with thriller author Thomas Booker

Thriller author Thomas Booker joins me today. We’re chatting about his new novel, The Persian Woman.

Thomas Booker has roughnecked in the oilfields of Texas, dined with royalty in Europe, forded crocodile-infested rivers in Africa, and trekked the backwoods of Canada, among many other adventures. He currently is helping to build a children’s clinic in Southeast Asia.

Welcome, Thomas. Please tell us a little bit about your current release.
The Persian Woman traces the struggle of an American man to overcome his prejudice against Muslims. Main male character Jeffrey Quinn is a former Navy SEAL whose wife was killed by a jihadist. Perhaps understandably, he is embittered toward all Muslims. His attitude is challenged when he comes into possession of information that a terror attack is being trained on the United States. When he takes this information to the FBI he is chagrined to learn that the agent assigned to the case is Parvin Sassani, the Persian woman of the title. He refuses to work with her because she is Muslim. He continues his recalcitrance until she puts her own career on the line to save him from a false charge of homicide. From then on he helps her every way he can, in the process discovering that she is a woman of great warmth, culture and courage. He concludes that “she had been the best human being of us all.”

What was your inspiration for this book?
This book began with a disconnect between what I was seeing in the media about Iranians (i.e. Persians) and what I was seeing in my travels. The media invariably focuses on the rabid zealots such as the ruling mullahs and the Revolutionary Guards. They make good villains for the daily narrative. But the Iranians I was meeting were among the most cultured and hospitable people I ever encountered. I decided to tell their story in The Persian Woman.

Excerpt from The Persian Woman:
I was not a bigot, I told myself. A bigot is a person who dislikes another because the other is different: Catholic, Jewish, black-skinned or copper-skinned or yellow skinned, or simply from a part of the world where not all the buildings are air-conditioned. A bigot burns crosses in front yards, lynches innocent men, and blows up churches filled with children. A bigot wears goofy uniforms and comic book masks and attends secret meetings late at night to hear other bigots spout conspiracy fantasies or just tell snide and nasty little jokes. A bigot takes a bath once a week in a galvanized tub and brushes his teeth with his fingers. A bigot is a classless jerk who hates for no reason. Well, that wasn’t me. I wasn’t a bigot. I just wasn’t going to have anything to do with the woman, that’s all.

What exciting story are you working on next?
A venture by mercenaries into Mexico to capture a wanted terrorist.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When a publishing executive in New York phoned me and said they wanted to publish my book. She said, in a complimentary way, that it was “unbelievable” anyone could write a first novel like The Persian Woman. Nevertheless, independent spirit that I am, I elected to go the Kindle self-publishing route. It’s my belief that traditional book publishing, like traditional newspaper publishing, is fading into the past. This belief has been bolstered recently by Kindle’s new service to make e-books available in print-on-demand paperback format. The Persian Woman is now available in paperback on Amazon. It has a great book design. Check it out.

Do you write full time?
Yes. In the mornings I do research and general background boning-up. I write in the afternoons.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My mother wanted me to be a priest; I wanted to be anything but.

Amazon author page | Amazon buy link

Thanks for being here today, Thomas!