Friday, May 31, 2019

Interview with memoirist Nancy Freund Bill

Writer Nancy Freund Bills, MS, MSW, joins me today to talk a little bit about her memoir, The Red Ribbon, A Memoir of Lightning and Rebuilding After Loss.

Award-winning writer Nancy Freund Bills is currently on the faculty of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Southern Maine, OLLI/USM, where she facilitates the fiction writing workshop. She is also a retired clinical social worker; during her twenty-year-long career, she served both as a psychiatric social worker at Concord Regional Hospital in New Hampshire and Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine, and as a psychotherapist at Green House Group, a group private practice in Manchester, New Hampshire. “The Myth,” Chapter 19 of The Red Ribbon, received first place in the memoir/personal essay category of the 83rd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing
Competition. Her memoir, fiction, and poetry have been published in Reflections, The Maine Review, The LLI Review, The Goose River Anthology, and in The 83rd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition Collection. A member of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance (MWPA), she lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, with her two Maine Coon cats.

Please share a little bit about your current release, The Red Ribbon.
On July 23rd, 1994, a beautiful afternoon on the southern coast of Maine, an isolated thunder and lightning storm unexpectedly exploded while Nancy Freund Bills’ husband and her younger son were sea-kayaking out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Later, at York Hospital, Nancy learned the unbelievable news: although they had made land and found refuge, both had been struck by lightning. Nancy’s husband, Geoff, had died. Her son, Teddy, only twenty, was in critical condition.

The surviving members of the family, Nancy and her two sons, were shocked at the loss of Geoff; they were also worried about Teddy who initially could not breathe on his own. Would he be able to walk, to keep food down? Would he ever be able to complete college? Nancy was in rough shape, but she tried to be a good parent. She promised her deceased husband, Geoff, that she would write their story and tell it with love and courage; the emblem she envisioned was a red ribbon lying across the title page.

Within a year of Geoff’s death, Nancy father died and in the years ahead, she faced the deaths of other family members, some anticipated and others, a surprise. Her elderly mother’s condition necessitated many visits to Montana, but before she died, mother and daughter were able to resolve what had been a troubled relationship for all of Nancy’s adult life.

Insightful, moving and full of intelligence and humanity, The Red Ribbon is a story of surviving the many and often devastating lightning strikes of life; Bills’ memoir is a gift of compassion and wisdom for readers who are struggling with their own losses.
Inspiration to Write The Red Ribbon

What inspired you to write this book?
In 2001, I attended a summer writing workshop on the southern coast of Maine. The leader began by saying, ”Sometimes, lightning strikes. It strikes, and a writer has no choice. He or she has been chosen to write.” Of course, he was speaking metaphorically. But in my case, when my husband and younger son were hit by lightning, I felt chosen to write our family’s story. Once I had a subject, I needed to find the courage to write it. And I wanted to do justice to the subject so that meant a lot of hard work developing and honing my skills as a writer.

Excerpt: An Explanation of the title, The Red Ribbon, from “The Myth”:
“…even before arriving at the hospital, I was creating the story, the myth. On my way to the emergency room in the back seat of a speeding car at three in the morning, I developed the plot. If you died and Teddy survived, it would not be by chance or because of my prayers. Teddy would survive because you were a hero.
            And when I read the medical and police records, I’ll be professional. I’ll be detached. And I’ll try to stick with the facts. But by then instead of a red arrow of lightning or scarlet splatters of blood, I’ll see a red grosgrain ribbon like the page marker in a family Bible. It’s that ribbon of love, not always just for you, but for life itself that has inspired me while I’ve struggled with our family tragedy. I know the great Myth, but in my story, a father’s instinct will be to sacrifice himself. Otherwise, I think the world would be upside down. Geoff, I’ll bind our story with love and with courage; I’ll lay a red ribbon on the title page. And in our myth, in our myth, the father will save his son.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I hope to return to researching and writing a Vietnam War era story about a couple who meet at an anti-war rally at Syracuse University. My heroine becomes heavily involved in the anti-war movement speaking at rallies and writing a pamphlet for draft dodgers who are settling in Toronto. The love interest of the heroine has accepted an ROTC scholarship to Syracuse and is obligated to serve in the army after graduation. When they fall in love, she tries to convince him to move to Toronto; he is torn between his personal sense of integrity and love. Very little has been written about the approximately 40,000 men who moved to Canada to avoid the draft. I would like to write a historical novel set during a time when many men left the USA knowing they might not be able to return for years if ever. And many men and women served during a war that was becoming increasingly unpopular at home while their own beliefs in the war were being tested. 

credit to Julie Bishop
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In 2014, I received an email notifying me that my memoir piece, “The Myth,” had been awarded a prize. Now Chapter 19 in The Red Ribbon, “The Myth” was awarded first place in the memoir/personal essay category of the 83rd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. When I learned that my memoir had been chosen from 6000 entries, I began to identify myself as a “writer.”

In May of 2019, I received an email from Kirkus Reviews. As I opened it, I whispered to myself, “Please let it be positive.” And as I read the review of The Red Ribbon, I kept thinking, “It is positive. It’s still positive.” And when I reached the last line, I read, “A keeper of a book by a talented author.” I reread the review and read, “Memoirs of loss and survival are rather common, but what sets this one apart is Bills’ extraordinary perceptiveness and writing talent.”

In the days after the Kirkus review arrived, I wakened in the mornings to the happy news that I had been identified by Kirkus Reviews as a “talented author” and that my memoir had been awarded a Kirkus star. What a thrilling time!

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 do not write full time. I value the freedom I have at my age, and writing, reading, and teaching are joys rather than tasks. My weeks are full of time with friends playing bridge and Mah Jongg and going out to lunch. I enjoy going to movies, plays, and concerts. The week my book is published, I will be with three of my grandchildren so that my older son and his wife are able to go on a trip to Ireland. I try to keep my life in balance spending time walking at my favorite park near the ocean and working in my small garden. My cats are always willing to keep me company especially if I want to take a nap.

I have done my best writing when I’ve been in a writing class or workshop where I have been honor bound to produce. Most of the chapters in The Red Ribbon were initially first drafts of 1000-1500 words written in a week. I am the kind of writer who does a lot of thinking while driving or in the shower; by the time I am at my laptop, I am writing in full sentences and with proper punctuation. The chapters of The Red Ribbon were initially short memoir pieces written because that memory persisted in being written about. One chapter, “Triage and Cows,” began as a few sentences scribbled on a program at an Easter Sunday service; I missed the sermon, but captured the beginnings of one of my favorite chapters.

Currently, much of my writing is related to promoting The Red Ribbon. I’ve written some essays about my writing philosophy and about the craft of writing that I can share with students in the future. This is a special time so I’m trying to enjoy it.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I had fun choosing titles for many of my chapters—"Off the Dock,” “A Head of Lettuce,” and “Planting Iris.” I liked creating stories that seemed to be about one thing but were about another like “Baby in the Back Room” and “What about Chester?” And I enjoy hiding in plain sight elements that I believe will please my reader but that they most likely will not notice. For instance, in The Red Ribbon, I have included a great barnyard of animals. I have Charley, a beagle, Bridget, a spaniel, and Baby, a golden retriever, “a purring cat,” Bella, Mr. Puss, and Chester, Gentle to Market, a thoroughbred and High Country Lady, a paint, Holsteins, (deceased), and a Jersey cow. Possibly more. I also include a lot of varied foods including some of my favorites, tapioca and bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon and some of my least favorite, Brussel sprouts and lima beans. I also have fun making fun of myself. I do all sorts of foolish, unexpected things. For instance, in “More Planting Iris,” a piece that makes my readers laugh, I not only talk to the ashes of my late mother-in-law, but I play opera music for her when I return her ashes to the cemetery. In “Making an Exit,” I create a shortcut from the independent care wing to the assisted care wing of The Rockies by going via what I call my “Nancy Drew” route through an “Employees Only” doorway. And in “Stonehouse,” I am so flustered by the workshop leader’s comments about lightning that I blurt out the least revealing details I can think of to share with him and my fellow writers. Then I share with the reader, “I probably [said] some other bullshit.” My motivation is to amuse myself and the reader.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a girl, I wished to be a veterinarian or a private detective. I wrote a story titled “The Murder of the Kidney-Shaped Swimming Pool.” I still love mysteries and favorite authors like Donna Leon and Louise Penny never fail to give me pleasure.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope my readers will look at my website where they can access several of my favorite chapters and the Kirkus review.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Interview with Mary Ann Poll

Novelist Mary Ann Poll is here today and we’re chatting about her latest supernatural thriller, Ravens Cove, 2nd edition, An Iconoclast Thriller, The Supernatural Battle for a Small Alaska Town.

During her virtual book tour, Mary Ann 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 her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Welcome, Mary Ann. Please share a little bit about yourself.
I’m Mary Ann Poll, America’s Lady of Supernatural Thrillers and charter member of Author Masterminds. The first question most people ask is, “What is an Iconoclast?” Iconoclast means, “The destroyer of religious beliefs or symbols.” I took this definition and applied it to the supernatural realm, which is how the Iconoclast Thriller series was born. My books revolve around the battle between good and evil. They also revolve around the heroic acts of ordinary people who must face extraordinary, even unbelievable, circumstances.

I draw from real-life experiences, as well as my imagination, to create these supernatural thrillers. My love for a creepy, goosebump-creating ghost story and my love for Christ come together in these books.

I am a proud pet lover, which is also reflected in my writing. In my off time, I enjoy gardening, swimming and spending time with beloved family.

I pray you enjoy reading Ravens Cove as much as I enjoyed writing it. Blessings in Christ!

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Ravens Cove was originally published in 2010. After nine years, and three additional books, my publisher and I decided to create a second edition. I am not the same writer as I was when I originally wrote the book. The second edition of Ravens Cove reflects my growth. It has new scenes and new characters. It was fun revisiting my first book. It was a bunch of work, too. The finished product is so much better than the first. It was worth the rewrite.

What inspired you to write this book?
I love a creepy, goosebump producing story. I am, and always have been, interested in the supernatural and the battle between good and evil. I wanted to write a story which brought the battle for human souls to life. So, the Iconoclast series was born.

Excerpt from Ravens Cove:
Josiah marched to the back of the church, lifting his hand, waving it back and forth to part the black mist covering the door.
It shot to one side before he walked through, a dark curtain blown by an invisible wind.
The dark mist, Atramentous by name, vibrated with hatred, then fear at what he saw. An angel of God stood beside this man.
The angel turned and nodded. “Atramentous.”
Atramentous bent his head to avoid the blinding light. After they passed, he raised his head, formed an invisible mouth, a deep red chasm where the black mist had been. A guttural, gurgling roar spewed out to sound the alarm, sending sleeping birds flying into the sky crying in terror.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next book begins a new adventure for my readers and for me. The Iconoclast series, of which Ravens Cove is the first, ended with Book Four.

This new book is set in an abandoned theme park and introduces new characters and brings in some of the previous characters, too. It promises to be as creepy as my previous books.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I excelled at writing from a young age. Yet, I didn’t consider myself a writer. It wasn’t until I started taking novel writing classes to see myself as a writer. I truly considered myself a writer when I wrote the first edition of Ravens Cove.

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 writing career is full-time. I don’t write on my novel every day. I do market almost every day, which includes much writing. My days are filled with responding to marketing efforts, writing articles for a book club I’m involved in and developing characters for my new novel. Some of my days are filled with fun. I watch some TV, play some games, swim and garden.

When I’m writing a new novel, I spend every day writing – between 2,000 and 4,000 words a day. The first draft is usually complete within three weeks. This all happens after I’ve developed the characters and have a rough storyline.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? I’d say it’s the way I put a book together. I am a ‘seat of the pants’ writer. I cannot tell you how a story is going to play out until the book is finished. I write from beginning to end and do not look back until it’s complete.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a physicist. Not because I enjoy science, but because I loved the word. Haha. As I grew, I wanted to go into music. I was in a band, wrote songs and have always enjoyed singing. Then reality hit me in the face. I had to make a living. So, I opted to go into a career in administration.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Moving to Alaska in 1972 began an adventure and love for the location that will never leave me.  Coming home to Texas in 2014 is a dream fulfilled. Unfortunately, events didn’t allow us to move home before my father passed away in 2011, who I still grieve. I am blessed to be with my sisters, brother, nieces and nephews. I am an avid animal lover. Presently we have two dogs and two cats. My books always have an animal—dog, cat, wolf—in them. These characters show the loyalty, antics and intuition of our fur pals. I relax by spending time gardening, swimming, reading and playing PC games.

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Monday, May 27, 2019

New interview with novelist Michelle Dim-St. Pierre

Novelist Michelle Dim-St. Pierre joins me today to chat a bit about her new suspense, Bloody Coffee.

Michelle Dim-St. Pierre was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel, where she spent more than half of her life before relocating to the United States.

She lived through four wars and served in the Israel Defense Forces for two years. Unlike her first year of service in an armored division in the Golan Heights, she served her second year in the medical corps where she interacted directly with the injured soldiers of the Peace of Galilee war and their families. This interaction, along with the exposure to the hospital atmosphere, fascinated Michelle and further touched her heart. She went on to get a BS degree in Nursing in Tel-Aviv, and practiced internationally for 32 years in various positions in the surgical field and quickly advanced into health care administration. During her career she worked in the Operating Room, Recovery Room, and CCU—along with many other duties.

Writing was Michelle’s outlet at first, but it soon became her passion. Now, she is a full-time writer. Her international background, along with her military and nursing experience is always at the tip of her pen. Her first novel, Pinnacle Lust, started the Pinnacle trilogy and was the Winner of Beach Book Festival in the Romance category, and also received several honorable mentions in other book contests. It was published to rave reviews.

Michelle is a world traveler who enjoys cooking epicurean food and creating original recipes. With her creativity, she merged her cooking and writing and is working on a companion cookbook. She currently splits her time between Florida and Georgia, where she is at work on her next two books. Visit her website at

Welcome, Michelle. Please tell us about your current release.
Bloody Coffee is the second book in the Pinnacle trilogy. The story follows the previous book, Pinnacle Lust. Obviously, you will find the same characters but also some new ones. Though it’s part of a trilogy, the book is crafted as a standalone story, so that people don’t have to read Pinnacle Lust to understand Bloody Coffee. Some people might not read the previous book at all and some might read it after they finish reading Bloody Coffee. While Pinnacle Lust’s genre is romance, Bloody Coffee falls into a different genre so it will easily attract more readers.

What inspired you to write this book?
Like I said, it’s a trilogy. The plot for the entire trilogy was already drafted before I started the first book in the series. Generally speaking, this story, along with my other novels, draws on my life and everything happening around me. It’s a reflection of my work, my friends and colleagues, and my family. The story was born from my experiences but developed through my imagination. I love to imagine my characters are real people. I think about what they would do in different situations that I find myself in. I play the story like a movie in my mind and the characters take on a life of their own. The story comes from that.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently working on the last book in the Pinnacle trilogy. This novel will bring the story of my two leading characters to a close, and will reveal the truth behind Leigh’s mother’s journal. I also hope to get back to my blog and to bring the Pinnacle companion cookbook back to the front burner. I started this project as a collaborative effort with a chef. However, along with his busy schedule, my personal life placed more demands on me and I no longer had the flexibility to work my schedule around someone else. Unfortunately, that pushed the cookbook project to the back burner. However, my inspiration still has a spark for this project. And right now, I’m deciding whether to continue and complete this project solo or to search for a local chef.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
This is a great question. In some ways, since I never received any education in writing, I don’t see myself as a writer. As everybody knows, nursing was my career. Being a writer is not the first thing that rolls off my tongue. I always say that I am a nurse. However, I always had a passion for writing. I think it all started when I was a young girl. I buried all my secrets, anger and dreams in a diary—like most young girls. However, I never outgrew the habit. I kept writing in my diary. I often wondered, was it that I never grew up or did I simply have more secrets to hide away?

Later, when I became a nurse, and throughout my successful career, my diary served me well. It was a vehicle to unload all of the emotional baggage created from my work. You can imagine the things I saw and heard—many of which were confidential of course. I dealt with sexual abuse victims, child abuse, homicides, affairs, corruption, mistakes, and disagreements. These crimes happened regularly and affected the lives of everyone—ordinary people, politicians, celebrities, officers, rich people, poor people, the educated, the uneducated, and you get the idea. The list is endless.

Then came my colorful life, as a successful, young, single woman. There was always something that I couldn’t and shouldn't talk about, so I wrote about it. I unloaded everything into my diary, and I still do to this day.

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?
Unfortunately, I am not writing fulltime. For one, I can’t make a living from writing, and two, I have demands in my life that come first.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think my writing quirk would be that 75% of my writing is done away from the keyboard. I imagine my story unfolding in my mind, like a movie. Then I transfer my thoughts to the keyboard. Late nights are my preferred time for writing… maybe because I don’t have that many distractions such as phone calls, family issues, etc.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Always a nurse. Even as a small child, I knew that caring for people was my true passion—what I was built for. I remember running around my childhood home with my first toy stethoscope, blood pressure cuff and thermometer, which my family had rather reluctantly condensed into a small leather briefcase for me after tiring of my incessant begging. I practiced and practiced—on them, on my friends, and on any visitor who happened to linger at our house longer than five minutes. Looking back, their reluctance may have stemmed from a weariness of opening their mouths and sticking their tongues out, yet again, instead of a distaste for the gathering of toy medical supplies and leather briefcases for an overly eager child.

No matter, as I grew into adulthood, I followed the path I knew to be most true to myself. I poured my heart and my soul into my studies and eventually my profession. Sometimes the hospital felt more like home than home itself. The sense of order and cleanliness juxtaposed against chaos and distress—all set amidst a regular buzz of activity, soothed my soul in a way that I still find hard to describe with mere words.

Over time, nursing became second nature. A profession that I loved, and that fundamentally shaped my personality, intellect and emotional development, had finally reached its peak. I knew it was time for a new challenge.

I began to give in to my desire to write. 
What started as a hobby—a deviation from my daily work schedule, an imaginative escape into a fantasy world that I could shape and produce as I saw fit—has turned into so much more. A few pages here grew into a few chapters. A few chapters grew into more chapters and before I knew it I had an intricate story and an admirable heroine. I felt like I’d found my second calling.

As I dipped into creative writing, I also had to learn the business side and the logistics of publishing from scratch. As much as writing was a joy it also became a challenge with concrete goals—something that I could pour myself into, and something that I could aspire to, much like I did with my nursing career.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m just really excited about this new book. Of course, the final book is packed with action and emotion. There’s so much story to resolve. I feel like a conductor trying to get everything to come together at the right time, to make it sing. And it’s the last book in the trilogy. It’s kind of like having your last child. I want to savor every minute.


Friday, May 24, 2019

Interview with sci-fi novelist Gardner "G.M." Browning

Welcome, Readers. Today’s special guest is sci-fi novelist Gardner M. Browning. He’s chatting with me about Karma City.

During his virtual book tour, Gardner 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!

Gardner Michael Browning is an award-winning author and professional wrestler. In addition to receiving a New Hampshire Literary Award, two of his novels were part of an international English literacy program for middle grade readers. Gardner enjoys classic literature, fishing, playing guitar and spending time with his family.

Welcome, G.M. Please share a little bit about your current release.
A micro-predator has crippled humanity; but when Dr. Marcus Graves’ engineered cure evolves to a greater threat, it falls to mercenary, Luna Briggs, and the shotgun toting drifter she loves, Jameson Shoals, to stop this new killer-elite before it supplants mankind.

Excerpt from Karma City:
Though the degradation in society perpetuated by the Malady parasite crippled advancements in industry and commerce, coal mining prevailed in the mountains and parts beyond Karma City, producing abundant fuel for steam engines and thermal power plants. As a result, the railroad had become the people’s last lifeline. Two 4-8-4 steam locomotives, antiquated yet reliable engines, wheeled along cardinal tracks transporting people, medicine and goods back and forth from Karma, Rime, Lobos and many other unnamed stops in the endless Void Lands. The masters of these locomotives were the rifle-bearing men and women sworn to a life on the
tracks— the cold-hearted, Iron Tribe.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently writing two science fiction stories: the sequel to Karma City and a near future thriller set on one of Saturn’s mysterious moons!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself a writer after I read a eulogy I wrote for my grandfather at the age of 20. I always enjoyed writing stories for fun throughout my childhood and teenage years, but on the day my hero was laid to rest, many attendees of the service approached me and expressed how deeply moved they were by words. One older man who I did not know met me in a hallway and asked, “are you a writer, young man?” I didn’t know how to answer and before I could, he said, “you ought to be, son.” After that, I thought about it long a hard and I came to the realization that a person can “be” something and also “become” something. I understood then that, yes, I was a writer. I was born a writer. But could I become a published 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 wish I was a full-time writer. Truth is, there isn’t much money in it unless you break out with a huge launch title by a major publisher or score a large advance for a project. Those instances are rare. Writing is a fantastic hobby and it can generate some spending cash. Some freelance writers can toil away and take on all kinds of writing assignments under contract, but even then, the writer is paid mere cents per word. It’s also been my experience that many companies or clients do not want to pay writers fairly for freelance work.

I find time to write on weekends and early mornings. (I start my days extremely early)

I am a seventeen-year veteran of the US Dept. of Homeland Security. I have working in counter terrorism and aviation security since the events of 9/11 dedicated to doing my part to prevent another such tragedy. It has been an absolute honor to serve and work beside so many wonderful people and do what I can as a civilian to protect our beautiful country and American families.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My quirk is that I am big re-writer. I am constantly working over entire pages to tighten up prose, layer in better description or make scenes more cinematic. I also cut out any and all areas of my story that do not directly move the plot forward. I’ve pulled out entire characters and all traces of them to strengthen the story.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be the World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion!

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Interview with romance author Anna Volk

Romance author Anna Volk joins me today to chat a little bit about Living In Shadows.

During her virtual book tour, Anna 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!

I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. When pregnant with my 2nd child I decided to try my hand at writing. 21 years later I’m still doing what I love. I’ve been married to the love of my life for 29 years. We have two wonderful boys who have grown into remarkable young men and have found beautiful soulmates. I have been blessed with my first grandbaby and he keeps us all on our toes and fills our days with laughter.
I love to hear from my readers. You can visit my Facebook Page Anna’s Journey to receive sneak peeks of my works in progress as well as links to purchase my books.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
This book is centered around our cabin. It’s such a beautiful place in the summer and fall. Our family has had such fun there that I wanted to create these stories where I have so many wonderful memories.

What inspired you to write this book?
So many times, I’ve read books and thought man I would have done it this way or that way. I decided to write for me. I write what I like and hope that others do too.

Excerpt from Living in Shadows:
Dylan moved to stand behind her. “Come on, Jilly; give me a chance to prove I’m not the poacher you think I am.” Jilly sighed, tired of fighting for everything and everyone, tired of being alone. Sable lived with her but she seldom left her bedroom. It might be nice to have a conversation with someone else and Dylan was right they did share a lot of the same interests. “Okay, dinner and a movie. I have to work at the bait shop until seven. I’ll meet you at my place after I close.” she conceded and climbed onto the bench seat of her truck; the slamming of the door echoed in the now quiet back road. “Great, I’ll see you then.” Dylan looked to make sure her back was turned before fisting his hand and bringing his knee up “yes!” he mouthed while doing a little victory dance. Jimmy watched the whole thing from the tailgate of his pickup and smiled before lifting another chip to his mouth. “Later, Jilly.” he waved as she pulled away. Jilly winked as she threw a treat out the window which Jimmy caught one handed. “See that the old girl gets that, will ya?” Jimmy laughed and saluted her with his pop can. “You’re a trial, Jilly. You’ll drive him nuts,” he said to himself as she was already flying down the road with the dust trailing behind her. He tipped the can to his mouth and swallowed the last drops of the cola. All was good; Dylan needed someone special in his life and he’d always had feelings for Jilly. Things were about to get very interesting. He dusted the crumbs from his Levis and jumped off the tailgate of the old pick-up and rubbed his hands together. Let the fireworks begin.

Marcus bowed his head. “I apologize for Becca’s action. She won’t bother you again. You have my word.” He looked toward Sable and took a small step. The wolf whined and curled herself into a tighter ball. Marcus hesitated and shook his head. For a moment he slumped, mixed emotions crossed his face, then he took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. “I’m truly sorry.” He turned and walked proudly out the door. “Man, is he cute,” Carrie uttered, her hand on her chest. “Isn’t he the guy that protects the wolves north of here?” Jimmy stepped forward. “Don’t even think it, young lady.” “He’s way too old for you,” Dylan and Jilly said simultaneously. Carrie laughed. “Cool it you guys. I just said the guy was hot. Don’t have a cow.” She put her hands on her hips. “I’m not a baby.” Jimmy watched the door. “What was that all about?” Dylan shook his head. “I have no idea but, girls, I want to personally apologize for all mankind if that’s the way you feel after a man gives you the once over.” He shook his body and brushed his hands down the front of his shirt. “I feel unclean.” Jilly walked over and gave his face a slight pat, lightly tweaking his dimple. “Relax, big boy. It’s me she was trying to get a rise out of, although you are pretty darn cute.” she winked. “Thanks, darlin’.” He gave her a quick peck on the lips. “I have something for you,” he whispered and reached into the front pocket of his jeans. “Turn around.” He gently pushed on her shoulder to turn her back to his front. He lifted her hair as he slipped the chain around her neck and fastened the clasp in back. “I know it can’t replace your friend, but I thought it would be a nice memory of her.” Jilly fingered the small charm and turned to face Dylan. “Thank you so much, Dylan.” Tears slipped down her cheeks and she swallowed the lump in her throat. The replica was of a mother bear with a small cub sitting beside her. “I’ll treasure it.” She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck, her tears falling on the bare skin of his neck. Dylan gently rubbed her back. “And I’ll treasure you darlin’.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I currently have 3 books waiting on the back burner. Zeus’s Redemption is a YA book about a dog I just rescued. I’m hoping to make it entertaining but yet get the word out how truly important and life changing Rescues are to these animals. My goal with these young adult books is to get kids interested in reading. Also, I’m working on a Historical Romance set in Scotland and another book in The Finding Love Out Of Tragedy Series set during the 9/11 attack.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Boy, I’m still working on that. LOL! Seriously I began writing 21 years ago when I was pregnant with my 2nd child. We had just bought a computer, I had time on my hands and stayed up into the wee hours of the morning. I self-published my first book. I wrote it for myself. It was eventually picked up by my publisher and the rest is history.

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 writing has always been part time as I worked full time. And as many of you know you can’t not force the words to come. If your muse wants to be fickle no amount of arguing is going to get her to work with you. I now am so very lucky as I work from home part time so can spend more hours writing. But I have a very bad habit of reading other Author’s wonderful work instead of working on my own..

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
All of my books are hand written. I just cannot sit at a computer and write. Staring at the blank screen my mind is the same so I sit curled up with a notebook and pen to see where my characters will lead me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A truck driver. LOL! Which is so funny to me now because I’m a complete home body plus I hate to drive.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I really want to Thank John DeSalvo for agreeing to be on my cover, Paul Sampson for telling him to check his mail and Lynn Hubbard for doing such a remarkable job. I am truly blessed.


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Monday, May 20, 2019

Interview with romance author Melanie Hansen

Romance author Melanie Hansen is here today and we’re chatting about her new contemporary military romance novel, Keeping a Warrior.

During her virtual book tour, Melanie 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!

Melanie Hansen doesn’t get nearly enough sleep. She loves all things coffee-related, including collecting mugs from every place she’s visited. After spending eighteen years as a military spouse, Melanie definitely considers herself a moving expert. She has lived and worked all over the country, and hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to the love stories she gets up in the wee hours to write. On her off-time, you can find Melanie watching baseball, reading or spending time with her husband and two teenage sons.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
I’m so excited to share Devon and Rhys’s story with you! Devon is a member of the U.S. Army’s Cultural Support Team, and as such, she works alongside a platoon of Navy SEALs, deploying with them and going on missions with them. Her job is to interact with the women and children who live in remote Afghan villages since it’s a grave cultural offense for her male teammates to do so. Rhys is an Air Force pararescueman who’s attached to the same SEAL platoon as Devon, and he’s just gone through a painful breakup with his childhood sweetheart. The last thing they’re looking for is a relationship, but as their trust in each other grows, so does the love! From San Diego to Arizona to Afghanistan and back, they find they can’t deny their feelings anymore, but Devon’s career aspirations threaten to drive them apart.

What inspired you to write this book?
A couple of years ago, I stumbled across a nonfiction book about the Cultural Support Teams called Ashley’s War, and wow, the plot bunnies started hopping! Even though a woman hasn’t yet made it through SEAL training or Delta Force selection, CSTs are still required to keep up with the men on patrol, fast-rope out of helicopters, and fight their way out of an ambush. I absolutely had to write a story about such a badass woman, and Keeping a Warrior is the result!

Excerpt from Keeping a Warrior:
The night before, for the first time since he could remember, Rhys had fallen asleep with another woman on his mind.

The same woman now sitting and staring pensively at the plane. After a moment’s hesitation, Rhys gathered his courage and approached her, not sure of his welcome.

“Mind some company?”

Devon glanced up with what looked like a genuine smile. “Not at all.”

Rhys lowered himself to sitting and drew his knees up, ankles crossed, loosely draping his arms around them. “You okay?
With a shrug, Devon mirrored his pose and nodded at the plane. “Just sitting here trying to analyze my feelings.”

“About going back?”


“I can imagine those are some pretty complicated feelings,” Rhys said gently.

“Yeah, well, I’m in a totally different place now, at least. Back then I was so idealistic, so trusting, so goddamn stupid.”

Rhys didn’t say anything, just let her talk.

“I thought that bad things couldn’t happen to me, or if they did, it’d be something heroic, you know? Not—” She shook her head. “And now all I want to do is reclaim that part of myself that someone else took from me.”

A lump rose into Rhys’s throat at the slight quaver in her voice.

“Well, this time around you have me,” he said fiercely. “You have the guys.” He nodded his head toward Matt and Shane, who were leaning against a nearby wall, arms crossed, each with one booted foot propped against it, heads close together.

Devon smiled when she saw them. “Think they worked everything out?”

Rhys was about to say he hoped so when Matt pushed off the wall. As he did, Shane snaked his hand behind him and gave his ass a firm pinch, followed by a discreet pat. Matt elbowed him, hard, but he was smiling while he sauntered away.

“Um, I think that’s a pretty safe bet.”

He and Devon snickered together, and she bumped him with her shoulder. “You’re right. It’s gonna be different this time, for lots of different reasons.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve just turned Book 3 of the Loving a Warrior series, Trusting a Warrior, in to my editor at Carina! I can wait to share George and Lani’s story with you. It will be out in November 2019.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Even after eight novels, it’s hard for me sometimes to consider myself a “real” writer! Imposter syndrome is a thing, that’s for sure, that feeling of not belonging. All I can do is my best, and that has to be good enough. This year I’m both a Lambda Literary finalist and RITA finalist, so that definitely helps my mindset!

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 actually have a full-time day job at a branch of our county library, so my writing time is limited, especially since I also have two teenage boys who play sports and are involved in lots of activities. The only way I can get around my schedule and have time to write is if I get up in the wee hours of the morning, like 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. That gives me a couple of uninterrupted, peaceful hours before the day starts. I write on my lunch hour, at the doctor’s office, waiting to pick my kid up from practice, all thanks to my trusty iPad, which goes everywhere with me! It’s definitely not an easy way to go about it, but it works.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m a total pantser, in that I don’t outline before I start a new story. A plot bunny will strike me, and if the story requires research, I’ll start doing that. Then I pick a starting point, sit down and start to write! It’s a difficult, sometimes stressful way to go about it, but it’s my writing process and I have to trust it.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For a long time, I wanted to be an archeologist or an oceanographer. I’m very interested in both the stories of the past and the unexplored. Unfortunately I didn’t have a real aptitude for science because my strengths are more in the literary arts—grammar, writing, etc.—so I ended up as a court reporter for thirteen years.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just a huge thanks to Lisa for hosting me today!


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