Monday, November 18, 2019

Interview with romance author Laura Brown

Novelist Laura Brown joins me today to chat about her new contemporary romance, A Perfect Mistake

During her virtual book tour, Laura will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly chosen 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 there, too!

Laura Brown lives in Massachusetts with her quirky abnormal family. Her husband has put up with her since high school, her young son keeps her on her toes, and her two cats think they deserve more scratches. Hearing loss is a big part of who she is, from her own Hard of Hearing ears, to the characters she creates.

Welcome, Laura. Please share a little bit about your current release.
A Perfect Mistake involves social worker Nica Anders having a one-night-stand with a deaf man, Cam Thompson. She soon discovers that he’s the grandson, and caregiver, for an elderly client, making him someone she should not have gotten involved with!

What inspired you to write this book?
I worked as a social worker for ten years and wanted to put some of that onto the page.

Excerpt from A Perfect Mistake:
He collected me in his arms. The earlier passion was gone though. This was serious. A confirmation that the desire to mess things up was so ingrained I’d sabotage without trying.
I’m sorry. I don’t know how to do this.”
Well, we kiss and then—”
I shook my head, a revelation brewing. “Relationships. I don’t know how. I’ve only witnessed the kind that ends in divorce.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next book is titled MATZAH BALL SURPRISE and it involves a fake date for Passover. Like A Perfect Mistake, my heroine is hearing and my hero is deaf, only this heroine doesn’t know ASL!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Oh, tough question. I think I considered myself a writer when I started actively pursuing it as a passion. Being published doesn’t make someone a writer, it’s more a tiny trophy for all the hard work.

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 as often I as can, but I have a day job, and a family life, that also demand my attention. Since my day job involves high end window treatments, I tend to have a decent amount of down time where I can get some words in. A typical day has me writing on and off, until my days off, where I try and get a little more in. It’s a hard juggle, but I’m so used to being attached to my laptop that it comes naturally!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Beyond being attached to my laptop at all times? LOL! I find that the more difficult the scene is to write, the more comfortable I need to be. I try and sit at my desk whenever possible, but I’ll end up in my bed, curled up under covers, writing when I need that extra boost. It’s bad on my posture, and my knees, so I don’t recommend it, but there’s something about that comfort that helps the words flow.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher. Then an actor.

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Interview with YA paranormal author Rebecca Ripley

Author Rebecca Ripley is chatting with me today about her new YA paranormal fantasy, The Aberrant Sword

Rebecca Ripley grew up playing in the heather on the rolling hills of the Hampshire New Forest. Growing up in a region where witchcraft, legends and lore shape the history and even future of the region, she developed a deep love for fantasy. In her books she tries to marry the concepts of fantasy with strong storytelling and fast-paced young-adult action. 

Welcome, Rebecca. Please tell us about your current release.
The Aberrant Sword is a fast-paced young adult paranormal fantasy book and the first in the Abarynthian Artefacts series. The story is about Isabelle who ‘finally’ gets to become a real-life kick-ass demon hunter… except that everything goes terribly wrong. 
She ends up befriending the Demon and, on a back,-breaking quest for a sword that is supposedly key in Evil’s plan to conquer the world. 

I wanted to write a fast-paced yet fluffy and maybe even a bit romantic Young-Adult book – that now has turned into a full-concept series. 

What inspired you to write this book?
I currently live in South East-London (my husband works outside of London so it is easier for him to hit the M25 that way) and I work near Green park. My commutes are hella long! I am talking an hour at least. One morning I finished my audiobook and I was hit with the lethargy that comes after finishing a really good series or an amazing book – What should I do now?

Opposite me sat this absolutely gorgeous woman – dark features, eyes that pierce into your soul, beautiful brown curls, tall and so incredibly stylish in leather… 

I could see her being a bad-ass demon hunter! 

On the train back home I started writing my book. 

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently working on the second book in the series. I have planned 5 books in this series and I already have plans for 2 spin-offs. One is an Academia series and one spin-off will take place in the USA. I am so excited for them but I can’t seem to write fast enough! 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t think I consider myself a writer yet. It’s hard. In the end I am just a girl on her way home or to work hammering out words on a keyboard. I guess I will consider myself a real writer if people buy my books and like them – I think that would be a real milestone for me: getting good reviews and people mailing me or signing up to the mailing list because they like my stories. 

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?
 No – I mostly write on my commutes and when I am home in the evenings. I basically take a bus to the train station and open up my laptop as soon as I am on the train. I tried writing during my lunch breaks but all what happens is that I just forget to eat. In the evenings I write after dinner – most of the time with a large glass of red wine. I think that is my favourite way of writing: comfy P-Jay bottoms, band shirt and a big glass of red wine. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I talk to myself and my characters when writing. It’s very annoying on the train and tube because people literally think I am

a) talking to them 

and when they notice I am not 

b) batshit crazy 
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to become a vet. Very unique – I know… 
Later on I wanted to become a journalist and travel the world.
I don’t know about the journalist stuff but if my books would be successful (touch wood) I do think I would travel the world non-stop. I would be a digital-nomad-author. 

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you. Get out there! Go explore! But always take a book

Thanks for being here today!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Interview with thriller author Steven Max Russo

Novelist Steven Max Russo is here today and we’re chatting about his new thriller, The Dead Don’t Sleep.

A little bit about the author:
Steve has spent the majority of his professional career as an advertising copywriter and agency owner.

He got interested in writing fiction after one of his short stories was accepted by an online literary journal in 2013. Then he caught the bug and began writing seriously.

The publication of his first novel, Thieves, has garnered praise from renowned crime and thriller authors from around the globe. With a gritty writing style and unique voice, he is quickly winning a legion of new fans.

Steve’s second novel, The Dead Don’t Sleep, is slated for release November 18, 2019.

Steve is proud to call New Jersey his home.

Welcome, Steve. Please tell us about your current release.
The Dead Don’t Sleep, a stand-alone thriller, is my second novel, due to be published on Nov. 18, 2019.

It’s about Frank Thompson, a recent widower and aging Vietnam veteran who is down from Maine visiting his nephew, Bill, and his family in New Jersey.

While at a trap range, he and his nephew have a chance encounter with a strange man who claims to remember Frank from the war.

That night, the windows in Bill’s home are shattered along with the quiet peaceful lives the two men had been living.

Three veterans from a special combat unit directed by the CIA during the Vietnam War have gathered to discuss what they are going to do about a man they claim killed one of their own over forty years ago.

Jasper, Birdie and Pogo were part of a team that called themselves the National League All Stars. They were a squad of psychopathic killers trained by Special Forces to cause death and mayhem during the war. Now, they have banded together to hunt down and kill the professional soldier who led them all those years ago.

Drawing on his military training and a resurgent bloodlust from his tortured past, Frank prepares for a final, violent reckoning that will bring him full circle with the war that never left him.

What inspired you to write this book?
This is going to sound a little strange, but what inspired me to write this book was fear.

You see, I am a novice author. The Dead Don’t Sleep is my second novel. I wrote the initial draft of my first novel, Thieves, fairly quickly and the response I received from test readers, successful authors, and other publishing professionals was extremely positive.

But I was worried that perhaps writing Thieves was just a fluke. What if Thieves was the only novel I had in me? Or what if my next attempt was just an awful story or the writing wasn’t any good or what if nobody liked it?

I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t just a “one hit wonder.”

So I started writing The Dead Don’t Sleep to see if I could actually sit down and write another complete novel.

I think it turned out pretty well.

Excerpt from The Dead Don’t Sleep:

(from the PROLOGUE)
Nui Ba Den, Vietnam, 1969

This is not war, he thought; it’s murder.

The first killer crouched silently along one side of the well-worn trail. His face was painted dark green with intersecting black lines to blend into the jungle. He had a razor sharp SOG Bowie knife, which he held at his side in his right hand, just slightly out in front.

The warm air was heavy with humidity. There were intermittent clouds letting through only occasional star and moonlight. A gray mist was discernible swirling lazily in the darkness about a foot or two off the ground. The whole area was shadows, thick with dense jungle foliage.

There was a small village up ahead about a half kilometer from his location. He could smell the wood smoke from the morning cook fires mixed in with stale odors of cattle dung and swine wallowing in their pens. He had been in-country for two tours now, much of that time spent out in the bush, and to him the smell was not unpleasant – was in fact comforting.

He concentrated on listening to the sounds around him, the buzzing of insects and the calls of birds, the occasional howl of monkeys waking off in the distant trees.

It was early morning, probably somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00 AM. He could feel the temperature beginning to climb even though the sun was still at least a full hour from starting its rise. His fatigues clung to his body, heavy with sweat and dew from the plants he had brushed against as he moved slowly and quietly through the jungle.

He heard a soft, sharp hiss from just up ahead on the other side of the trail. It was a signal from the other killer, who also waited crouching silently in the dark.

Someone was coming.

He slowed his breathing and looked down at the ground, not wanting any light from a break in the dark clouded sky to reflect off his eyes.

He closed his eyes, squeezed them shut tight for a second and tried to concentrate on the three essential elements that could mean the difference between life and death.

Speed. Precision. Surprise.

There were faint footsteps approaching in the distance. The target was supposedly a VC courier that the spooks had identified. This was his preferred route, the time and day supplied by informants.
A supposed VC courier.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Well, after I finished writing The Dead Don’t Sleep, I had that same nagging fear.

Only this time I was thinking what if I only have 2 novels in me?

So I started writing my third novel, The Debt Collector.

This latest book is with my brand new agent, Peter Rubie of FinePrint Literary (I guess I must be doing something right!).

It’s the story of young woman named Abigail Barnes who makes her living collecting debts for low-end bookies and loan sharks. She’s pretty, petite – and deadly. She moves to a new town and gets a job collecting for a small-time bookmaker who winds up dead. Soon both the police and the mob are looking for her believing she committed the murder and she has to try and find the true killer before she ends up either in jail or dead herself.

Again, this book got a good response from test readers and it also grabbed the attention of my agent, Peter, who agreed to represent me, so I have high hopes.

But guess what? Even with this third book written, I’ve still got this nagging fear in the pit of my stomach – what if I only have these three books in me?

So I’ve started working on a sequel, you know, just to be sure.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Well, I’ve always considered myself a writer.

But I never considered myself an author until the day I held the galley copy of my very first novel, Thieves, in my hands.

My wife and I attended Bouchercon (a mystery writers conference) down in St. Petersburg, FL last year. It was there that my publisher, Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books, handed me the first printed copy my book.

Somehow holding the actual printed book made everything suddenly seem real.

I mean, it had my name right there on the cover!

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 actually have a day job that helps pay the bills. I run a small advertising agency in my home state of New Jersey. It’s a job that I enjoy and that also involves a good deal of writing and creativity, but of another sort.

I do most of my novel writing at night and on weekends. Quite honestly, it’s sometimes hard to find the time. But I am sort of a binge writer. Once I get going, I can sit at my computer for four, five, six hours and it seems like I’ve only been at it for a short while.

What’s wonderful is that I truly enjoy writing novels. It doesn’t feel like work. I often tell people that when I write, I sometimes feel more like a reporter than a novelist. I see the story and action unfold in my imagination and I feel like I’m right there in the action. I simply write down what I’m seeing and the dialog I’m hearing.

Many people read as a form of escape, to go in their mind where the story takes them. Experiencing a different place, a different time – meeting new and strange and sometimes dangerous characters.

The same thing happens to me when I’m writing, almost like watching a movie in my head.

Of course, it’s not always fun. Sometimes the film that’s running in the projector in my brain snaps and I’m left staring at the blank screen wondering where the heck I’m going to go with the story and that can be a little intimidating, but overall, I really enjoy the process.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I always write in the nude.

No, just kidding.

One thing I find odd is that I most enjoy writing when it’s raining or storming outside. I don’t know why that seems to inspire me.

Maybe if I ever achieve a certain level of success, I’ll move to Ireland or England where the weather is more cooperative in that way. As everyone knows, here in New Jersey the weather is bright and sunny and tropical, all day, every day, all year long! (Again, just kidding.)

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
First I wanted to be a cowboy, then a jet pilot, then a professional football player, and then a rock star. I guess somewhere around high school, I decided I wanted to be an author.

Now I’m leaning more towards cowboy or rock star again.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope you enjoy my books and if you do, please tell others.

As an advertising professional, I can tell you that there is no better endorsement than a satisfied customer.

I also want to express my sincere thanks to Lisa, and to all of you readers out there for taking the time to find out more about me.

You’re very welcome – thanks for being here today!