Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Interview with historical novelist Jean Gallant Marcoux

Today’s special guest is historical novelist Jean Gallant Marcoux chatting with me about his new WWII romance, Our Time Will Come, war, separation, and a daring attempt to reunite.

During his virtual book tour, Jean will be awarding a $20 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 his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Jean Gallant Marcoux was born in Quebec City Canada, where he earned an MD degree from Laval University. As a board-certified allergist, he practiced in Quebec City from 1970 to 1977 after which he continued his career in Houston Texas until his retirement in 2007.

Passionate for history, he has published articles for historical society magazines in his native Quebec. This is his debut novel. Dr. Marcoux lives in Houston with his family.

Please share a bit about your current release.
After a year in Paris studying painting at l’École Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Hélène Simard returns home to Québec City in 1939 with a secret. She has a German fiancé. She can conceal his identity but not the baby she carries. Hans Werner, her lover, was drafted in the German army, and his dreams of ever reuniting with Hélène are shattered with WWII escalating. In 1942, a bold opportunity arises for him to cross the Atlantic. Hounded by the Canadian police and Nazi assassins, the lovers’ hope for a new life together becomes intertwined with a plot to kill Winston Churchill.

What inspired you to write this book?
Years ago, I learned about the two WWII Québec Conferences of 1943 and 1944, where President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and their military advisers met in Québec City, my hometown, to make plans for D-Day. I even saw newspaper pictures of Churchill touring the city in an open-convertible limousine. At one point, the limo stopped in front of City Hall, and Churchill stood in the car to salute the dignitaries and the immense cheering crowd filling the street. I wondered why the Nazis didn’t use the opportunity to assassinate the British Prime Minister. Or did they try?

     Once I retired from practicing medicine, I planned to write a spy novel on the subject, and I read all I could find about the events occurring in Europe and in Québec, just before and during WWII. I also read online, French and Canadian newspapers of the era.

     I soon realized that a typical story of a Nazi spy coming by U-boat from Europe to assassinate Churchill during the Québec Conference, didn’t make historical sense. The planning of the Conference was kept secret almost until the day it started, and Churchill was NOT supposed to be exposed to the public. It’s only the Prime Minister’s daredevil nature, coupled with daily hordes of Quebecers in front of the Chateau Frontenac hotel clamoring for Churchill, that produced the last-minute decision of the open-convertible tour.

     My spy novel became a love story, and I’m glad it did, because “Our Time Will Come” is a story that fans of historical novels should enjoy, as it explores a Canadian angle on WWII. Romance being a central theme of the book, it should also satisfy readers of that genre.

Excerpt from Our Time Will Come, war, separation and a daring attempt to reunite:
Paris, May 19, 1939: 4:00 A.M.
     It was dark outside. Hélène was in Hans’s small furnished apartment, in his bed, crying silently. Her love, her lover, the man she wanted to be with for as long as she lived, was leaving for Germany. They said the war was possible and Germany was calling its men to serve. Hans letter had come after Hans had called his mother to inquire about its arrival. When she said she had received it, he asked her to forward it to him in Paris. At first Hélène could not believe it was true.
     “There must be some mistake; this is not you they are calling. It must be someone else.”
     He took her in his arms and said, “It is me. This letter was expected, and as hard as it is for me to be away from you, I must go. Hopefully, this war will be over in a few months, and as soon as I am discharged, I will come to you in Québec. We will never be apart again.”
     Why did you sign up for the military? You’re an artist, not a warrior,” she said with a flare of anger in her voice. “Why, why, why?” she yelled, pulling away from his arms. Her hands involuntarily formed fists and her eyes filled with tears.
     He pulled her back to him and said, “I was drafted; I had no choice.”
     “I have a plan,” Hélène said, regaining some of her poise. “Let’s leave now. In a day or two, we can be on a ship to New York, Halifax, or Québec. The Germans will never find you in Québec. We will get married and be together forever.”
     Hans took her hand and led her to the kitchen table where they both sat down.
     “Darling,” he said, “I must serve my country. I saw my father come back from the war, in 1918, as a crippled man. He was gassed in the trenches and the last years of his life were a long agony. He was always out of breath, coughing and spitting. He could only sleep for a few minutes at a time, until the next coughing spell. When he learned of the conditions imposed on Germany at the Versailles Treaty, he wept and told me Germany had surrendered without having fought on its territory. We were not invaded, but betrayed; we were stabbed in the back by our leaders, under pressure from the French, British, and Americans.”
     “Despite my young age,” Hans continued, “I understood my father suffered for years, dying little by little, for a cause he believed in. His suffering and death were in vain. I see this new war as a chance to defend the honour of my father and all those who fought for Germany and died for nothing.
     He stood, took her in his arms, kissed her, and said, “I don’t want to leave you, but I have to go, I must go. I promise you I will do all I can to get back to you as soon as possible. Our time will come.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently writing a sequel to Our Time Will Come, occurring the following year, 1944, during the second Québec Conference. Once again, the Nazis try to blackmail Hans Werner into killing Churchill, this time by kidnapping his and Hélène’s 5-year-old son.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I first held in my hand a copy of Our Time Will Come, my first published novel.

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?
Since I retired from practicing medicine, I have no other gainful occupation. However, I do not write every day. My wife and I enjoy traveling, (before COVID-19) playing golf, and spending time with our grand-children. I read all the time, fiction and non-fiction books which help fashion my own writing.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I tend to let my characters go where they want. Once I started a short story about Edmond. Halfway thought, a minor character Gabriel, took over. At the end, it became Gabriel’s story, where Edmond was not even mentioned.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Long ago, when I was a child, doctors did house calls. One day, my grandfather, who lived with us, got sick, and my parents were visibly worried. The doctor came, spent a few minutes in grandpa’s bedroom, came out and declared, “it’s just a bad cold, he’ll be back to normal in a few days.” Immediately, my parents were relieved. I decided then, I wanted to be a doctor, and help people feel better. That’s why I became a physician.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
All writers love to hear from their readers, and find out what they liked, or didn’t like about their books, and answer any question they might have. Do not hesitate to contact me.


Thanks for being here today.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 27, 2020

Interview with dark fiction author Matt Carter

Dark fiction author Matt Carter joins me to chat about Bennytown.

During his virtual book tour, Matt will be awarding a $15 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 his other tour stops and enter there, too!

The book will be only sale for $0.99 during the tour

Matt Carter has used his lifelong love for writing, history and the bizarre to bring to life novels like Almost Infamous: A Supervillain Novel, Pinnacle City: A Superhero Noir, and the Prospero Chronicles young adult horror series (all co-authored with Fiona J.R. Titchenell). Bennytown,is his first solo horror novel.

He is represented by Fran Black of Literary Counsel and lives in the usually sunny town of San Gabriel, CA with his wife, their pet king snake Mica, and the myriad of strange fictional characters and worlds that live in his head.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Bennytown is a horror novel for adult audiences, centered around a major American theme park with a dark history.

For 60 years now, Bennytown has been America’s favorite and most exciting theme park experience, bringing to life iconic cartoon characters, including the world-famous Benny the Bunny. Featuring rides, shows and other themed attractions at the cutting edge of technology, Bennytown is a place of innocence and joy for the whole family. On the surface, anyway. Behind its family-friendly façade, Bennytown is a place of darkness ruled by eldritch magic, where ghosts, masked cultists and monstrous scientific experiments roam freely, and nothing is as it seems.

The story follows Noel, a 16-year-old new hire who believes he owes a lot to Bennytown. Though initially excited for his new job, he soon begins to discover that the dark forces that live within Bennytown might have designs for him…

What inspired you to write this book?
Bennytown is kind of a book I always knew I was going to write in one way, shape or form. I have always been something of a horror writer at heart, and living in Southern California and having reasonable access to a number of the greatest theme parks in the world, I’ve always been a bit of a fan. Growing up, I was fascinated and enthralled by a number of the morbid true stories and urban legends that surrounded a lot of the more popular parks, and that information never thoroughly left my mind. Then, when I was 16, I got my first ever summer job at Universal Studios Hollywood. Between my fascinations and the two years I spent working there, it feels like this story was an inevitability.

Excerpt from Bennytown:
Darkness is all I can see in any direction. I see shadowy, moving shapes I know to be buckets around me and maybe an outline of the escalators but nothing in complete detail.

I am abandoned.

No, no, no. I can NOT be abandoned. Somebody has to know I’m here. Somebody will look for me. Any second now. Any second…

I grip the railing and scream, “HEEEEEEEEEEEY! HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!”

My cries are pitiful against the wind and the rain. I doubt anyone can hear me from thirty feet away, let alone from the distance of the station. Despite that, I’m too scared to stop screaming.

Someone has to hear.

I scream again.

This time there’s a scream back.

Not a person. Not an animal.

I don’t know what.

It’s low, mechanical and almost organic. Only something large can make a sound like that.

Briefly, I hope that it’s the motors starting up, ready to pull me to safety.

I’m not that lucky.

And maybe it’s a good thing I’m stuck here. There’s something about that scream I don’t like, something that reaches into the furthest, most primitive recesses of my brain and tells me that whatever made that noise is hungry.

The wind picks up, and the steel cables above me creak and groan in protest.

A bolt of lightning flashes close enough to light up the sky. It’s so bright it burns my eyes, and the thunder sounds like the whole world is exploding around me. With spots and stars in my eyes, I wonder if I’m going blind, as the electricity in my bucket turns on again. The light is dull and yellow, flickering, and the speaker briefly comes to life. The voice whispers right into my ear.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve got a few horror projects in the pipeline at any given moment, but my current next one is a gothic haunted house tale that my wife and I are co-writing. While I can’t give a lot of details about it, we’re having a lot of fun with it.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have always been a writer in some capacity, but it wasn’t until the later end of college that I realized it was something I wanted to focus my life on. For so long it was something I considered to be a fun hobby, one that I could dream of making a life out of someday but one that would never actually get that far. However, once I got my degree and spent a good long while soul-searching, I realized that it was my path all along. And so, I write!

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?
Short answer: I try to. Life circumstances have allowed me to write full time, but with my attention span very easily distracted by anything remotely shiny, some days take more effort than others. All the same, I do love to write. Most days are a combination of a few rounds of coffee and hours spent staring at a screen trying to make words happen. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, but I shall always try.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am incredibly long-winded when writing fiction, and it’s only editing that makes what I say remotely readable. Anything I write is more than likely to be cut by 30-40% from first to final draft, without losing too much of the story in the process.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For the longest time, I wanted to be a paleontologist, and yes, it was because I was obsessed with Jurassic Park. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a teacher, and this was close to happening, actually, but as noted, after college I was in one of those soul-searching meets epiphany moments, and this is where it took me.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?Nothing that I can think of off the top of my head, but I hope you check out Bennytown for a good, fun scare. Thank you for having me on your blog today!


The book will be only sale for $0.99 during the tour

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Interview with Jerry Hack about Memoir of a Hockey Nobody

My special guest writer today is Jerry Hack. We’re chatting about his memoir, Memoir of a Hockey Nobody: They Said I Couldn’t Make the NHL So I Went Out and Proved Them Right!

During his virtual book tour, Jerry will be awarding a $20 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 his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Welcome, Jerry. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Burnaby, British Columbia. My sisters and I were raised by hard-working blue-collar parents. We were and are a tight knit family. I grew up loving sports but hockey most of all. In fact, it was my passion. I read about it, watched it and played it. I was an average student and a good athlete. I could play most sports without looking out of place. But I was born to be a goalie. I graduated from high school in 1979 and a year later began my journey playing ice hockey. 40 years later, I am happily married with a 12-year-old daughter and loving life more than ever.

What inspired you to write this book?
First of all, let me thank you for having me on your blog. I am thrilled to be here. It really started out as a lark. I was just posting funny stories on Facebook about my younger days when I played some “serious” hockey. The stories were getting quite a positive response, and more than a few people suggested that I should write a book. I had never even considered the possibility of doing such a thing. I had not written much since high school, and that was a billion years ago. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt I had a story to tell that’s never been told before. As far as I know, nobody has ever done what I did. Also, my parents had passed away in recent years and I realized that I didn’t know their story. I knew bits and pieces, but I realized that I would like to know the story of their lives, and they are gone now, so I can’t ask them. I thought about my own daughter and how one day she might want to know my story. I didn’t want to leave this life without her being able to find out. Now she will.

Excerpt from Memoir of a Hockey Nobody:
“Just one final note about my senior hockey career. I’ve never been a big believer in statistics. I like the quote from Bobby Bragan, who was a baseball player in the early 20th century. I’m paraphrasing but I believe he said, “The problem with statistics is, if you have one foot on fire and the other in a bucket of ice, according to the statisticians, you should be perfectly comfortable”. In the 4 seasons that I played for the Rebels, I won the Best Goalie trophy every year. 11 other goalies came and went during that time, some specifically to take my spot. I also won the league trophy for Best Goals Against Average every year. In 35 years of playing competitive hockey, I won a lot of trophies. The danger of winning that many is that you can start to think that you’re better than you are, (I call it “The Red Light Lonnie Syndrome”). I only kept one trophy from all those years and my wife is under strict instructions to show it to me if my head starts to get too big. I assumed that when the league bought the trophy that year, they sent it out to be engraved in a shop that didn’t employ sports fans. When I won the Best Goals Against award and it was presented to me, I read the inscription and it read:
“Best Average Goalie” “Jerry Hack”
How apt is that?”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m not a writer, I’m actually a forklift driver. While writing this book, I figured that this would be a “one shot deal” and I would most likely never write anything else. But the book has had such an overwhelmingly positive response and people seem to like not only what I write, but the way I write, so I feel I have to consider the possibility of doing it again. I have an idea for a novel banging around in my brain and the thought of putting pen to paper again excites me. I have a really twisted sense of humour and I think it would be fun to put some of my ideas into a make-believe world. But for now, I’m just going to enjoy the attention I’m getting from this one.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I never have. Even after publishing my memoir I don’t consider myself one. I tell people that yes, I am an author, but I’m not a writer. I once saw a movie where a family has an author over for dinner. Their teenage son is just in awe of him as he wants to be a professional writer in his future. The author asks the teenager “why does a writer write?” The teenager answers without much hesitation, “to make money”. The author replies to him, “no, a writer writes to write. It is something he is, not something he does.” If I write another book, and it is published, maybe then I might consider the possibility that I may be a writer.

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 most definitely do not write full time. I am a total blue-collar worker bee. I drive a forklift for a lumber company. I am a shipper. I enjoy my job even though I have to do math every day. I have what I call “the loner gene”. I like myself, and I like being by myself, which I figure is why I enjoy writing (although this is a recent realization). I don’t know if it’s like this for writers, but I like the fact that when I am typing into my computer, I am the master of my domain. I am the dictator of my world and everything in it. I find the best time to write is after my wife and daughter have gone to bed and the house is quiet. My brain never really shuts off and the ideas and memories flow easily from my mind into my fingertips. Then the dog will bark and all is lost (not really).

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I haven’t been writing very long (a matter of months) so I’m not sure what quirks I have developed. This might be a better question for my wife. But if I had to pick one, I would say that it’s my ability to have complete and total focus on what I’m doing (part of being a goalie I guess). I will be plucking away on my keyboard and my wife will be trying to get my attention from across the room. I will be completely oblivious and totally absorbed in what I’m doing. She will finally throw something at my head (like a pillow, not a hammer). Sometimes when I’m writing I will even answer her questions without knowing that I’m doing so. Then later, she will ask me about the matter, and I will have no idea what she’s talking about. Also, I have a habit of using parentheses (I quit for a year, but I gained a lot of weight).

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Not a writer. Again, if you are going to make me choose one, I would say professional goalie. It was my passion, bordering on obsession, for almost as long as I can remember. But also, there was a laundry list of others. At one time or another, I wanted to be a lawyer, football player, train engineer, stuntman (didn’t work out because I’m afraid of heights), sculptor, actor, astronomist, zoologist, park ranger, stock broker, psychologist, medical doctor, helicopter pilot (again, afraid of heights), or a professional golfer. It depended on the day which profession I wanted to be.

Anything additional you want to share with readers?
The book is not just for hockey fans. This is not only my opinion. Many different people have read it so far. Some hockey fans, some not. Male, female, young, not so young. Some who know me and some who do not. They all have said pretty much the same thing. It’s an interesting and inspiring story that will have you laughing out loud at times while maybe shedding a tear at others.

This is a review from a female reader named Trish C.
Reviewed in Canada on June 3, 2020
You don’t have to play hockey, heck even like hockey, to enjoy this book. It’s about the pursuit of a dream and the ups and downs of that pursuit. You will feel like your travelling along with the author through their journey. You’ll cheer, you’ll feel anguish but mostly you’ll laugh, a lot. It’s a a lighthearted, easy to follow memoir that will have you flipping page after page to see how their journey unfolds. Highly recommend.

Thank you, Lisa for having me on your blog. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Just one last thing, partial proceeds from the sale of my book go to help my friend Suzanne who is fighting stage 4 cancer. Some of the treatments that are helping her are not covered by insurance or the government. For the first 1,000 books sold, I am donating $3.00 from each one. So, if you buy my book, you help Suzanne. If you would like details of Suzanne’s Go Fund Me page, they are on the Memoir of a Hockey Nobody Facebook Page. Thanks everybody and stay safe!!


Thanks for being here today.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Interview with novelist A. Gavazzoni

I’m happy to host author A. Gavazzoni today. She’s here to chat about her new action and mystery placed in a historical background, Sketches of Life.

During her virtual book tour, A. 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.

Also, the book will be $0.99 at Amazon during the tour.

A. Gavazzoni is a Brazilian writer, a former professor of law and has been a practicing lawyer for 28 years. Her first series of self-published novels, Hidden Motives: Behind the Door, Lara’s Journal, and The Brilliant Game, won several writing contests, gathered five gold medals, one bronze medal, five honorable mentions and was finalist of many great contests: B.R.A.G. medallion (Gold Medal); Book Excellence Awards (Two Gold medals); e-lite awards (Gold medal), Golden Book Award (Gold Medal); IPPY AWARDS (Bronze Medal), Readers Favorite (three honorable mentions); Paris Book Festival (Three honorable mentions); Eric Hoffer Book Award (Finalist); American Fiction Awards (Finalist); Indie Excellence Awards (Finalist); Independent Author Network (Finalist); Indie Excellence (Finalist); The IAN book of the year awards (Finalist); The Kindle-book award (semi-finalist).

Adriana speaks Portuguese (her native language), English, French, and Spanish and she loves to travel. Adriana loves to cook for her friends, to dance the tango, to work out, she is a voracious reader and a proud dog's mom of two girls, Juno and Charlotte.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Sketches of Life is an action-mystery-romance that takes place in an historical setting, and it tells the story of people trying their best to survive in a world in turmoil due to World War II. Facing unfamiliar circumstances and days filled with challenges, the characters need to learn to adapt or die. Inspired by spy stories I’ve read, the book is filled with mysteries the reader needs to decipher and deals with complicated matters such as losing people you love, dementia, and fulfilling your dreams.

What inspired you to write this book?
Sketches of Life is the story of the grandmother of one of my main characters in my trilogy Hidden Motives. When I created Emma, I knew I had to write about her life because she was the perfect grandmother, and it is clear she has a mysterious past. I simply needed to tell about her life. Also, I was inspired by spy stories I’d read, and by the Mossad, which is a subject I love to read and watch movies about.

Excerpt from Sketches of Life:
Having nobody else in the world and nothing to lose is terrifying, but it’s also liberating. No matter what I had to do, I would have the courage. I couldn´t disappoint anybody, nobody would cry over my actions, and I had nobody to please.

Things are as big as your proximity to them, and if you keep your distance, nothing can scare you or threaten you. Everything is just a matter of perspective, and the secret to surviving was to keep my heart safe and never expect anything from anyone. In the end, all feelings, good or bad, are only as powerful as you allow them to be.

I learned to live day by day, planning but not living for my plans, trying to solve just the problems I had in front of me and not worrying about things that hadn´t introduced themselves yet. As life had shown me, and Malena once told me, we had no control over the future, and it was as unpredictable as the ocean—it could drown a person if they thought they could tame it.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working in the sequel to Sketches of Life and another book about life in Brazil.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my first novel was published, that was one of the best days of my life.

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’m an active lawyer, and I have to divide my time between my clients, my legal profession, and writing. I organized my schedule in a way that allows me to write every day. I also have other hobbies, such as amateur astrology and dancing. I love to cook for my friends, and I love to socialize and share a good laugh. I think it’s possible to do many different things; it’s all a matter of staying organized.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I’m away from computer and have an idea, I send notes to myself. I’ll use my phone to send myself an email or text.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
So many things. A race car driver, a writer, an astronaut, a scientist, an engineer, a ballerina— all those things at once! But since I’m a writer, I can be all those things in my mind.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m a very positive person, and I try to see the bright side of everything. Life is much easier when you do that.

The book will be $0.99 at Amazon during the tour.

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 17, 2020

Interview with debut contemporary romance novelist Jordan R. Samuel

My special author guest today is Jordan R. Samuel who is chatting with me about her debut contemporary romance novel, On the Eighteenth of May.

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

Jordan R. Samuel is a former public school teacher and administrator who enjoys her current work as an Assistant Professor of Education. She spends her days with her husband and her three children as she teaches, studies and writes. She immensely enjoys travelling, and penned many parts of this particular story while relaxing in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina.

Welcome, Jordan. Please share a little bit about your current release.
I would love to! My latest book is On the Eighteenth of May, which is the story of a young woman, Cass, who walks into a small village in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the evening of May 18th. She shares that she intends on staying one year in this place, and then leaving the following year on the same date. Cass soon meets two precocious children, a caring and generous business owner, and the Chief of Police from the neighboring town. Family and loss are parts of many of their stories, but how these themes are approached or navigated are different for each.

While these people, as well as others, attempt to know and help her, the history and troubled memories of what led Cass to his place begin to gradually unfold. As the potential for love and the pathway for healing begin to become clearer, all will be forced to explore the depth to which loss and guilt may be felt by the human heart. As the date of departure approaches, Cass and those around her will be forced to decide how forcefully they are willing to hold on: to the past, to the pain, and to the person.

On the Eighteenth of May is the story of this single year spent in the small village of Chimney Rock, and of the people and events that interweave themselves into and throughout Cass’s journey and her life.  It is a story that examines the true definition of strength, and what it means to be strong in the face of adversity. It is a story that explores the depths of sorrow, as felt by the human heart, and the extent to which a person’s mind and soul can absorb or deflect the pain of that which is lost. It is a story that explores the perceived helplessness of those within the support structure, and the extent to which those we love can hinder or accelerate the healing process.  Finally, it is a story that reminds us of the overwhelming power of comforting influences in all of our lives, as our human souls struggle, against all odds, to survive.

While currently my plan is for this book to stand alone, I have had quite a few readers ask me for a sequel to the story. This may or may not happen, dependent on the sales for this one!

With this being my first novel, several ideas combined at once, from different personal experiences or interests. First, I was going through a particularly sad time in my life when this novel was first conceptualized, so that was one impetus for some of the particularly sad themes in the novel. While the story in the novel in no way reflects the actual situation I was experiencing with my family member, the mood of the novel certainly does. In addition, I have visited the Blue Ridge mountain region of North Carolina on many occasions, and have found that there are few places on earth quite as lovely as the Chimney Rock and Lake Lure areas, so the setting of the novel, for me, was an easy choice. Many of the ideas for the most stunning scenes of the novel (yes, for those of you who have read the novel, I’m talking about Chapters 27 and 30) were inspired by the beautiful history and stories of the Cherokee Nation. Their legacy and lore is a key part of the love story that unfolds On the Eighteenth of May.

I probably shouldn’t admit it, because I am sure it will come across as a little lazy, but I wrote my first novel to be exactly the kind of novel I would love to find on the bookstore shelves! A sad, sweet love story. Simple writing that keeps my interest but doesn’t make me think TOO hard (I do enough of that at work!) This is the genre I love to read myself! As I wrote the book, I kept thinking – “Wow, I can’t wait to finish so I can relax, lay on the couch, and read this book!” I love simple romances, with a little bit of mystery thrown in.

And as I started writing On the Eighteenth of May, I started picturing all the people in my mind who probably loved this type of book as well and were all just waiting for me to finish! I have already started writing my next novel, The Broken Bridge, and I am happy to share that, yes, it is the same general type of genre. A sad romance that will pull on your heartstrings and leave you cheering for characters even though you suspect, against all hope, that a rough road is ahead – just around the curve.

I belong to a book club and we met recently to discuss a historical fiction that we had just read. I was so relieved when everyone started sharing how hard it was for them to “get into it”. It was then that I knew, I’m not alone. Sometimes we all just need a sad love story to engross ourselves in, as we lay on the beach or sit on our couch or swing on our front porch.

I tried to write the two characters in the relationship with a little detail and a lot to be imagined. I tried to help the reader in getting to know them better and better as the story developed, but not giving away too much about how they might react to a particular situation. And, of course, since the novel tells the whole story through back and forth point of views (from each of them) we get to see a lot more of what each one is thinking than the actual love interest does. Hopefully, it makes for a captivating yet sad love story that will hold your attention throughout.

What inspired you to write this book?
I have never before, in my entire life, tried writing fiction. As a professional educator, and now a university professor, I have spent a great deal of my life writing academic pieces. I have published many peer-reviewed articles and chapters in various journals and books and have very recently published a handbook on research regarding effective online course design. I had always hoped to write a novel, but had never quite made or found the time.
In early 2019, I was busy working on two research articles for my university, which both happened to fall during a very sad time in my life. Not to go into too much detail, but one of my family members was very ill, and was lost and hurting and struggling. And I realized at that period just how sad I was, over the whole situation . . . over my lack of ability to help in some meaningful way and over my complete uselessness to make things better. And so, one day I opened my laptop, but instead of working on the research articles (like I was SUPPOSED to be doing), I started writing a story. A story filled with sadness. A story filled with love.

Excerpt from On the Eighteenth of May:
Lucas reached the competition area and put on a cheerful grin, giving every outward appearance that he had waited all day just for this opportunity. Farley was already at the starting line with a Velcro leg wrap in hand, ready for his partner to join him and sporting a silly smile across his face.

As the other racers gathered around their respective lanes, Farley and Lucas sized up the competition. Most were teens and children, but there were also a few serious-looking adult pairs, all of whom appeared to be sizing up the two police officers as the team to beat.

If only they knew, thought Lucas with a muted chuckle. He and his deputy had come in last place last year as they had attempted this endeavor. Apparently they both had two left feet and a general lack of coordination to boot.

Farley secured the Velcro strap tightly around their lower legs, Lucas’s right and Farley’s left. The two stood side by side at the start line, waiting for the other teams to ready themselves in the same fashion. It appeared the race may be starting in a minute or two.

Lucas heard Farley’s phone ding with a text alert, then watched as his friend read it. Farley’s smile disappeared, replaced by a look of concern. Suddenly, Farley was crouched, unlatching the Velcro strap and readying to depart.

“Sorry, Luke, Kaley just called. Austin fell coming off the bouncy slide and busted his lip. He’s pitchin’ a fit and she needs my help.” Farley finished disconnecting his leg from Lucas’s leg, dropped the Velcro to the ground, and anxiously jogged away towards the children’s play area.

The megaphone announcer was readying the competitors now. “All teams to the line, please. I’ll count down from three to one, then listen for the horn as your start signal.”
Lucas watched as the other pairs approached the line where he now stood alone. He looked down at his right leg where the Velcro strap lay. He started to bend down to retrieve it so he could move aside and out of the way, when suddenly he saw another leg appear beside his. A person was crouched down, securing a left leg to his right one, pulling the Velcro tight and fastening the hooks.

The megaphone announcer shouted, “Three!”

The person was standing upright now, looking straight ahead towards the finish line. Lucas, however, was looking at the side of her face. He felt her left arm reach around his waist, felt her hand as it clasped onto his shirt.

“Two…,” the announcer called. The spectators appeared fully enthralled with the drama of the countdown.

She was silent, looking straight ahead, and now, he too, looked straight ahead and readied himself for the race. Without thinking, his right arm reached up and over her shoulders, found her waist, and settled there in a loose embrace of her shirt and skin underneath.

The announcer yelled, “One!”

Cass turned her face slightly upward and towards his and whispered softly, “Outside legs first.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I had such an amazing experience writing On the Eighteenth of May, that, yes, indeed, I have started on my next novel, which will most likely remain titled as The Broken Bridge. It, too, will be set in the Blue Ridge mountain area of North Carolina and will focus on a displaced child, her life and upbringing as she grows up, and her journey as she lives in wealth and luxury, surrounded by loathing and bitterness.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have been writing, on the academic level, for eleven years. Starting with my dissertation, and then followed by numerous published academic journal articles, chapters in books, and even published books on research (one that was just published in January!), I have been writing for quite a while. However, I believe your question may have been “when did you first consider yourself a fiction writer?” On the Eighteenth of May was my first novel ever, and it was published in March of 2020, so I have been “writing” fiction for a little over a year!

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 prefer to write in the early mornings and the evenings. I head to my local McDonald’s with laptop in hand, order a large coffee and write for about an hour. Then, in the evening, I repeat the process on my back deck overlooking a lake (although I do substitute wine for the coffee in that case). I try to limit my writing sessions to about an hour at a time. And then I take walks afterwards to process and reflect on how my writing could be better.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I really have to have people around me, noise and activity and life. It is very hard for me to write in a silent environment, or even one that seems “out of the norm”, like with music playing in the background. That’s just not me. I love looking up from my laptop and seeing real people, most or all of them strangers, as they carry on with their lives.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I was probably quite influenced by all the crime and courtroom dramas I watched on TV! I came from a family of educators, so I soon became drawn to that profession and so glad I did! I have enjoyed a wonderful, long career as a public school educator and now as a university professor!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Even though I am 55 years old, I like to challenge myself both mentally and physically. Just last week I did a virtual half-marathon. I am trying to teach myself Spanish using a virtual language program. I asked a neighbor to borrow her keyboard and I am trying to learn how to play the piano. I am constantly looking for things to do that will stretch my mind and my body in ways they haven’t been stretched before! I never thought the day would come that I would write and actually hold my own novel in my hand – but it happened!

Thank you so much for hosting On the Eighteenth of May on your blog and thank you and your readers for any feedback or discussion regarding On the Eighteenth of May! I hope you will try it out and let me know what you think!


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway