Friday, February 15, 2019

Interview with novelist Nanette Littlestone

Author Nanette Littlestone joins me today to chat about her women’s fiction, Bella Toscana.

During her virtual book tour, Nanette will be awarding a $20 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.

Nanette Littlestone never knew she wanted to be a writer until she was over forty. But once she began, the ideas didn’t stop. Her fascination with relationships, history, and the spiritual path has opened her writing to women's fiction, historical fiction, and inspirational nonfiction.

A native Californian, Nanette lives in Atlanta, Georgia, far from the beach (which she loves) but a place that’s warm with spectacular scenery. On the professional side, she helps entrepreneurial women write and get published with Words of Passion. On the fun side, she takes walks with her husband, cooks, plays with graphic design, and makes origami butterflies. She loves to travel, but she’s waiting for the teleportation machine to whisk her off to Greece or Asia. In the meantime, she’s happy with dark chocolate and romantic movies that make her cry.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Bella Toscana is a story about an older woman’s journey of self-discovery and learning to trust what her heart desires. She has just turned 50 and has a comfortable marriage with a kind-hearted husband, but she longs for something more, something she can’t express. As you travel with Toscana to Rome and Tuscany, you’ll encounter mouth-watering descriptions of good food (spaghetti alla carbonara, cacio e pepe, fettucine con carciofi, porchetta, fritto misto, tortellini in brodo), chocolate (rich dark brownies with apricots, Amaretto, and almonds or with cranberry, Triple Sec, and walnuts), and passion (His mouth takes mine in a heady kiss, rich with wine and the passion of our love), beautiful Italian scenery, past-life memories, and difficult choices. Be prepared for non-stop reading and lots of pantry raiding.

What inspired you to write this book?
Bella Toscana is the sequel to The Sacred Flame, a historical novel about a Vestal Virgin in ancient Rome who falls in love with a married man. When I was writing The Sacred Flame I was already aware of the sequel and how these lives in the current time would take on some of the challenges of the past. The history of Rome, the lives of the Vestals, the duties and sacrifices they made, colors, mosaics, jewelry are all part of this story. Those influences prompt and encourage Toscana to take her journey of self-discovery and look deep into her heart.

Excerpt from Bella Toscana:
I loved him before I knew him.
Some people talk of synchronicity. The rhythm of life. I know of rhythm, in the lyricism of words, in music, in the ebb and flow of the ocean, in the monthly cycles of plants and trees. A beautiful orchestration exists in the simplest of nature. But my world operates on logic, practicality, reason. I do not believe in a grand plan. I do not believe in God.
And then he came.
Before him, I had a well-ordered life. Habit and routine carried me through the day, warmth and comfort eased me through the night. There were disappointments. Longings. Not all was perfect. But such is life. If there was no great passion, so be it. Peace is preferable to something wild that soars then fizzles and leaves you with an aching heart. I had a different kind of love—security, respect, admiration, friendship.
I was fine. Just fine.
He showed me my lies in a slow creep of warmth that grew and teased and eventually began to burn. The thought of him burrowed deep inside me until I could think of nothing but him.
We were soul mates.
Soul mates. I scoffed at that. But we were linked inextricably, inevitably by some deeper force, some older reckoning that began many years ago.
To this day I don’t think he knew what would happen. How do you know what fate has in store for you? They say man has free will to act, to choose, to create whatever he desires. But what of other people’s actions, choices, desires? What if those choices conflict with your own? We tried to resist the seemingly magnetic pull. We did our best to act rationally, to behave with honor and dignity. To be selfless. But love is not selfless.
Love is selfish. Love craves attention. Love needs to be heard, to be felt. Love is a natural disaster.
You may think this is nothing new. We all know stories of love. But this story is different. This story spans over two thousand years. This story began in ancient Rome.
So I beg you, for as long as it takes to read this story, to put aside your beliefs. Something took hold of me, pulled me along. Was it fate? Destiny? Divine intervention?
Look to your own heart for the answers.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a YA fantasy with a teenage girl who tries to heal the heart of the planet. The underlying theme is love and forgiveness and there are a lot of areas that I’ve never delved into before—the human heart, the ocean, math and logic, synesthesia, fractal geometry, Hebrew traditions—so I have a lot of research to do and a lot of thinking and planning.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’d written a little poetry in college and class papers but I had no desire to “be a writer” until one afternoon when I was forty-one when Spirit whispered to me and told me to start writing. I started with a story about a woman who won the Publisher Clearing House Sweepstakes and when a dead body showed up and a detective followed, I gave up because I knew nothing about murder or mysteries. Some months later I began a fairy-tale romance and finished it nine months later. My second novel wrote itself in a month. My third took a couple years. When my husband and I moved from Portland, OR to Atlanta, GA I decided I wanted to be a writer and I joined a critique group, My first reading was so traumatic I vowed never to return, but I did and eventually took over the group. That’s when I felt my writing career had begun.

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 wish I could write full-time. Not because I don’t have the time (and most of the time I don’t), but mostly because I can’t seem to sit still that long. My logical, perfectionist mind gets in the way. If I have an amazing idea I can write for an hour, or two at the most, and then I’m done. I have to do something else. I envy writers who can write for hours at a time.

The rest of the time I vacillate between my business as a professional editor and publisher, helping my husband administratively with his music light business (I do the bookkeeping), and playing Editor in Chief for the Conscious Life Journal (an Atlanta-based magazine). All that editing definitely slows down the writing process. There is no such thing as a first draft. My first draft is like a fourth or fifth draft because I’m never satisfied. Every time I read what I’ve written I change something. I’ve also discovered recently that marketing takes a LOT of time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I’m taking a shower or taking a walk are the best times for ideas and scenes and dialogue to come in, and of course I’m not ready and have this mad dash to remember what I’m thinking and get to a place where I can write it down.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut. I had an explorer spirit back then. I loved to travel and I loved adventure and I could see myself among the stars. When Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon I wanted to be right alongside him. I couldn’t imagine anything better.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I sincerely hope you enjoy reading Bella Toscana. And if you do read it, please drop me a line. Authors lead lives of solitude, plying our craft and hoping that we’ve created a story that entertains, that makes you think, that inspires you. Hearing from a reader is the most amazing thing. So please reach out. I’d love to hear from you.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

List of International Book Fairs 2019 from Kotobee

Readers, I was recently contacted by Reem Habbak, the Education Manager at Kotobee about a newly compiled list of international book fairs for 2019.

The list can be filtered by continent and shows chronologically. It's impressive and I thought you might find it of value.

You can visit Kotobee Blog here:

Visit here to visit a readable and sortable view -- have fun!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Interview with children's author Carey Fessler

Children’s writer Jeff Bolinger, aka Carey Fessler, joins me today to chat about his new middle-grade historical suspense book, Foiled.

Welcome, Jeff. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in a military family and moved around more often than a gypsy. My favorite smell is green, favorite flavor is mist, and favorite day of the week is Funday. I wonder if fish wish they could wink and trees wish they could walk. I think it’s bizarre that your belly button harbors more bacteria than there are birds in Borneo. I believe biographies are boring and think it’s fun to speak in silly-sounding sentences with wacky words that start with the same letters. I live in the city of rain and thunder in the land Down Under, which is home to koalas, kangaroos, and kookaburras—a kingfisher. Finally, I believe in exercising your imagination and secretly staying up past your bedtime.

Please tell us about your current release.
Foiled is a Middle Grade pacey, page-turning novel set in 1947, featuring the famed Roswell UFO crash incident near Roswell, New Mexico.

The title Foiled has three meanings:
1.    Foil: noun- referring to the ‘magic foil,’ (piece of thin metal sheet) in the story, which is a piece of alien technology from the crash site of a UFO. On the front cover, you can spot the girl holding it in her hand. ;)
2.    Foil: noun- The two MCs contrast each other and so emphasize and enhance the qualities of the other.
3.    Foil: verb- prevent (antagonists) from succeeding.
What inspired you to write this book?
The idea for the book came after seeing three photographs of a UFO near Roswell, New Mexico that my brother in-law had showed me. As an author I didn’t care if the photos were real or not. I just asked myself, “What happens if … in 1947, two Roswell kids obtain a piece of alien technology and become fugitives?” And that was the seed for the story.

Excerpt from Foiled:
“You’re the first real Indian I ever met,” Billy said. “I was kind of hoping you lived in a tepee.”
“My goat ate it.”
“Where’s your goat?”
“I ate him.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve just finished the last book in my sea-island adventure trilogy:
Shanghaied: Escape from the Blackwolf
Shipwrecked: Dragon Island
Sea Raiders

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The first time I came out of the closet and told someone other than my wife.

Do you write full-time? Yes.
If so, what's your work day like? Up at dawn, walk the dog, eat breakie, and write until noon. Walk the dog, eat lunch, re-write/revise the previous day’s work until 3pm. Walk the dog, do errands, housework and make supper. Rinse and repeat.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I listen to music while I write, either Classical or New Age.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? An oceanographer so I took scuba diving lessons in college and then joined the Navy and served in nuclear submarines, so I came close.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
  1. I use the pen name Carey Fessler to honor the two people who encouraged me to read as a kid—my grandparents: My G’ma’s maiden name is Carey and my G’pa’s last name is Fessler … Carey Fessler worked perfectly.

  1. Adults are constantly telling children what they can and can’t do.
I set out to write a story about an eleven year old stumbling over endless physical and mental pits, picking herself up, and pushing herself on to discover for herself what she can do. I also wanted to ask, “Would an eleven-year-old stop at the established limits set by the grown-up world to save her friend and family, or would she break those limits?”

  1. I’m hoping to turn kids onto reading by sparking their imagination. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is intelligence having fun.”

Thanks for being here today, Jeff.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Interview with mystery author S.A. Cosby

Novelist S.A. Cosby sits in the hot seat today to talk with me a bit about his new rural noir, My Darkest Prayer.

During his virtual book tour, S.A. 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 his other tour stops and enter there, too.

S.A. Cosby is a writer whose work has been published in numerous magazine and anthologies. His story "Slant-Six" received an honorable mention in Best Mystery Stories of 2016. His life experiences include being a retail manager, a bouncer, a forklift driver, a landscaper, a roadie, a construction worker, a mortuary attendant, and he once wore a cow suit when he worked for Chik Fil-A. He majored in English at Christopher Newport University and now lives in Gloucester, Virginia.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
My Darkest Prayer is a rural crime novel inspired by both my childhood growing up in small town Virginia and my current position as an assistant at a family run funeral home. It tells the story of Nathan Waymaker a biracial man who after resigning from the Sheriff’s department finds himself working for his cousin at a local funeral home. Since joining the staff of the funeral home Nathan has taken several side jobs as a troubleshooting unlicensed private investigator. He does this partly for extra money and partly as a way to atone for a past misdeed that cast a shadow over his life. As the novel opens Nathan is hired by the congregation of a local church to investigate the death of their minister. Soon Nathan finds himself in the midst of a maelstrom of sex, violence, and murder.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write a noir novel set in a world i was intimately familiar with while telling the story from the point of view of a character not often represented in crime fiction. I am also a true crime addict and so unsolved cases of murder in my hometown and the surrounding areas provided a template for the mystery that is central to the novel.

Excerpt from My Darkest Prayer:
I handle the bodies.

That's what I say when people ask me what I do for a living. I find that gets one of two responses. They drift away to the other side of the room and give me a sideways glance the rest of the night or they let out a nervous laugh and move the conversation in another, less macabre direction. I could always say I work at a funeral home, but where's the fun in that?

Every once in a while when I was in the Corps someone would seem me at Starbucks or that modern day Mecca Wal-Mart wearing my utility uniform. They would walk up to me and say, “Thank you for your service.” I'd mumble something like “No, thank you for your support” or some other pithy rejoinder, and they would wander away with a nice satisfied look on their faces. Sometimes what I wanted to say was, “I took care of the bodies. The bodies with the legs blown off or the hands shredded. The bodies full of ball bearings and nails and whatever some kid could find to build his IED. I loaded the bodies up and dragged them back to the base, then went back out on another patrol and prayed to a God that seemed to be only half-listening that today wasn't the day that someone would have to take care of my body.”

But I don't think that would have given them the same warm and fuzzy feeling

What exciting story are you working on next?
Currently I am in the final stages of editing a Southern heist novel that will incorporate some characters from a short story I wrote in 2015 called “Slant-Six.” I am also hard at work on completing the first draft of a revenge thriller about two fathers, both ex-cons but at vastly different places in their lives who join forces to seek justice for their sons who were killed in an apparent hate crime for their sexuality.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I didn’t really think of myself as a writer until I got my first paycheck for a short story I wrote. I know that’s not the way a lot people see it but I’m a lapsed Southern Baptist and i think i retain some of that puritanical belief in the value of work being articulated by how much compensation you receive for said 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?
As I said my day job is as a funeral home assistant. So my time is often limited but I hold myself a strict schedule of writing five days out of every seven. The five days do not have to be sequential but I try to write something five days a week. Because of the unpredictable nature of my job I can find myself writing at 2 A.M. in the morning or six o’clock at night. I don’t have a real office so i just lock myself in my bedroom put in my earbuds crank up some rock or hip-hop and write for at least two hours.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
(Laughs) Well I think one of my strangest quirks that irritates the people in my life is that i often act out fight scenes. I believe in making violence as realistic as possible. i used to be a bouncer and I try to recreate the chaotic nature of physical violence in my work while keeping it realistic. Most people who get into a fist fight are not trained in combat so it can be a whirlwhind of pushing and shoving. So if someone were to peek in my window when I’m writing a fight scene they would probably see me jumping and spinning to make sure i get the physics right.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A private eye or Indiana Jones. Or both.

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Interview with writer Walter Stoffel

Writer Walter Stoffel joins the blog today to chat a little about his memoir, Lance: A Spirit Unbroken.

Walter Stoffel is a substance abuse counselor and GED teacher in correctional facilities. When not behind bars, he likes to read, travel, work out and watch bad movies. Major accomplishment: He entered a 26.2 mile marathon following hip replacement surgery and finished—dead last.

The author currently lives with his wife Clara, their dog, Buddy (another rescue), and cat, Winky (yet another rescue).

Welcome, Walter. Please tell us about your current release.
Lance: A Spirit Unbroken is the recounting of the off-the-wall rescue of an off-the-wall dog. Lance lived the entirety of the first 10 years of his life outside on the run before I met him. I began walking him from his abusive owners’ property until the day it became clear Lance had to be rescued. That’s when the fun really began. Lance turned out to be semi-feral and a threat to anybody, even his rescuers. At the same time, Lance had a very entertaining side. Picture Marley meets Cujo!

What inspired you to write this book?
Everybody loves a rags-to-riches story. In this case, the main character happens to be four-legged rather than two legged. Even those not particularly into dogs have been impressed by Lance’s dogged (I had to!) determination to survive. I believe there are lessons in Lance’s life that apply to us humans.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m in the final stages of the graphic story of a young boy growing up in a highly dysfunctional family on Long Island. Difficult to pinpoint the genre, but right now I’d call it a fictional biography.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Tough to pinpoint an exact date. Ultimately, the readers decide to what level my writing rises. Lance has earned five-star status among readers on three continents.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
My day jobs keep me busy in jail. As an indie author, it’s extremely difficult to write and promote your finished book(s) while holding down a job. I won’t look for sympathy though, because I know there are lots of other writers going through the same experience. Let’s call it a labor of love.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m definitely a seat-of-the-pants writer. I’m not saying that’s a good or bad thing, only that it’s my current creative reality. Also, I have a penchant for humor no matter how dark the subject matter.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I just wanted to get out of my childhood alive (see my second book). Apart from that, I was not focused on my future, other than a vague wish to be a baseball player. It’s a long story (double entendre intended).

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you for taking the time to read this post on Lisa’s page. And, thank you Lisa for giving me the opportunity to appear on your page.


Thanks for being here today, Walter.