Monday, September 21, 2020

Interview with western novelist Bob Brill

Writer Bob Brill joins me today to chat about his new western, Lancer; Hero of the West – The Broken Bow Affair.

Bio:
Bob Brill is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and writer who is well known in broadcast circles and radio news. A former national correspondent with the UPI Radio Network and currently a news anchor/reporter with the only All News Radio Station in Los Angeles, he has written a dozen books. Aside from other novels and non-fiction books, Bob has just completed the sixth novel in the Lancer; Hero of the West series. There will be ten. He writes one a year.

Welcome, Bob. Please tell us about your current release.
The Broken Bow Affair is the sixth in the series and takes place in Broken Bow, NE. Lancer is hired by the local cattleman’s association to find who is rustling the local herds. He meets up with his usual legendary characters along the way. There are usually a couple of them aside from the men he knows and hangs out with in Tombstone, AZ, such as the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. 

What inspired you to write this book?
Several of the Lancer series deal with International Affairs (New Orleans and Los Angeles in particular as well as Santa Fe). This one deals with a real problem the West faced; rustling and the growing power of corporations (aka associations). I wanted to delve into America’s growing corporate structure as well as bring in some historical figures.


Excerpt from The Broken Bow Affair:
   Lancer stepped in quickly.
  “Look fellas I got breakfast coming and I’d really like to eat it without getting heartburn, if you catch my drift,” the gunslinger registered. “Now if we can put the family squabble aside for a few minutes, I do have a question maybe the three of you can help me with.”
  The brothers agreed without a word to settle this later. Lancer needed help and they were obliged to give it. 
  “I’m going up to Nebraska tomorrow, cattlemen up there in Broken Bow, got some troubles and need my help.”
  Virgil’s ears perked up right away.
  “Range War? Didn’t think you’d get involved in something like that. Nasty business.”
  Lancer waived him off.
  “Nah, rustlers,” he assured the older Earp. “Seems something about they got it going on up there and can’t seem to catch who’s behind it.”
  “Cattleman’s Association hiring you?”
  Lancer nodded. Wyatt didn’t look up from his coffee and said it straight forward.
  “There’s your answer,” he replied. “Never knew an association of cattleman to be anywhere near the honest truth. Probably doing the rustling themselves and looking for someone to blame it on. You look out for yourself up there. We are really talking nasty business.”
  Lancer had thought about it but since he didn’t have much to go on yet, he wasn’t making any assumptions. He took in all that Wyatt was saying however.
  “I’d rather face Johnny Ringo than a cattleman in a suit and tie, any day,” Wyatt pointed out.
  Just then a booming voice came from the doorway.
  “Well, I’m right here law dog.” 
  Johnny Ringo stood tall enough despite not being a man of great stature. When he spoke, whether softly or with a keen sense of power, people listened. Wyatt, surprised, did not even look up.
  “Can’t you figure enough to come in out of the rain, Ringo,” Wyatt suggested. “Oh, I forgot you did.”
  The comment was enough to rile Ringo and move his hand toward his gun. It didn’t take much because Ringo was always looking for a fight, itching to pull his .44. 
  “I wouldn’t do that,” came the voice of Doc Holliday behind Ringo. “Johnny Ringo why don’t you just sit down and have some breakfast? I’ll even pay for it.”
  Ringo stood frozen. He’d love to tangle with Holliday and maybe would one day, but not today. As his hand moved slowly away from his holster Ringo settled down a bit.
  “You keep your money Holliday,” he answered. “I can buy my own breakfast, anytime, any day.”
  Virgil couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
  “Yup, I guess the price of cattle just went up, didn’t it Ringo, I mean some folks got their pockets full of foldin’ money, not just jinglin’ change, ain’t that right?”
  “You got somethin’ to say Earp, you say it!”
  Virgil got up from the table and walked directly over to Ringo. The two men went face to face and stared, neither with a smile to be had.
  “I got something to say, Cowboy,” Virgil held his ground. “Where’s your partner, Curly Bill this morning? Oh, he’s probably eatin’ Tortilla’s and enchiladas somewhere near the Mexican border, I figure.”
  As Ringo’s hand moved closer to his side again, Doc put his hand onto Ringo’s hand and held tightly. Ringo, despite his lack of even temperedness, understood he was not going to win anything here. He stared directly into the eyes of the elder Earp, turned and stormed out. Doc let him move on.
  “Now nobody sit with their back to door, ya hear?” Virgil warned.
  “Not necessary,” Doc responded. “You see, Johnny Ringo, while a desperate scoundrel, carries too much pride in himself to back down and then shoot you in the back. He’ll be back, but his breakfast will be eaten elsewhere this morning.”


What exciting story are you working on next?
As far as books go, I start writing the next Lancer in November or December but I have not decided where yet. I'm thinking San Francisco but that's not set in stone. Right now I’m getting ready to shoot a documentary on an event from 50 years ago. February is the 50th anniversary of the Sylmar earthquake and I was a senior at Sylmar High School at the time. It’s a big project and won’t give me time to write. Although I am working on another book which I’ve been working on for ten years but I only pick it up when I have little else to do, and that’s rare. 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always written since childhood but I really began the craft seriously and professionally in 2008 when I started putting together “Fan Letters to a Stripper; A Patti Waggin Tale.” I own the rights to a long dead stripper who married a major league baseball player. It’s a coffee table biography. When I was 7 I started writing jokes for friends and family and I guess that contributed to my quirky sense of humor. 

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, my day job is as a news anchor and reporter with the only all news radio station in Los Angeles. Otherwise, I also write screenplays and pilots as well as books, a couple of blogs including the very popular “www.baseballinthe1960s.com. It’s a weekly column about baseball from 1960-69. I also produce a trivia show on my YouTube Channel several days a week and once in a while I sleep. I find the time to write in between other stuff and when I decide I need to work on one project I write for hours at a time until I want to stop. The next day or even later in the day I go back to it. It usually takes me 3-4 weeks at most to write a first draft of anything. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I buy and sell baseball cards, something which I became well known for. At one time I was considered an icon in the industry when I wrote “The Brill Report,” which was a twice weekly “FAX newsletter in those days. It is a passion of mine (baseball cards not newsletters).

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The Lone Ranger

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
When I am on the treadmill at the gym I still watch half hour episodes of the Lone Ranger on my phone to make it through the exercise. I really hope people enjoy Lancer and my weekly baseball column as well as the short films I’ve produced and hopefully one day I will actually sell a screenplay and see my work on the big (or the little) screen and not just the Internet. Dreams never end and I really do just enjoy working and creating. 

Links:

Thanks for being here today, Bob!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Interview with historical fiction author Charlotte Whitney

My special guest today is historical fiction author Charlotte Whitney to chat with me about her novel, Threads.

During her virtual book tour, Charlotte will be giving away a $50 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!

Bio:
Charlotte Whitney grew up in Michigan and spent much of her career at the University of Michigan directing internship and living-learning programs. She started out writing non-fiction while at the University and switched to romance with I Dream in White. A passion for history inspired her to write Threads: A Depression Era Tale chronicling the stories of three sisters on a farm during the throes of the Great Depression. She lives in Arizona, where she loves hiking, bicycling, swimming, and practicing yoga.

Welcome, Charlotte. Please share a little bit about your current release.
It's a boring, hardscrabble life for three sisters growing up on a Michigan farm during the throes of the Great Depression. But when young Nellie, digging for pirate treasure, discovers the tiny hand of a dead baby, rumors begin to fly. Narrated by Nellie and her two older sisters, the story follows the girls as they encounter a patchwork of threatening circumstances and decide to solve the mystery.

What inspired you to write this book?
My grandparents had three daughters that they raised during the Depression, but my grandmother didn’t like to talk about those times. Once, when I asked her about it, she answered, “We were very, very lucky. We only went hungry for a year.” Even though I was a child, that left me with a chill. Even farmers who had gardens, chickens, pigs, and dairy cows went hungry, because saving for taxes and mortgage payments required them to sell everything. So I decided to use their farm as the setting for Threads.


Excerpt from Threads:
“Bad luck is raining down on our family. Like a wet, cold downpour. Every waking moment I walk around with a heavy heart. Ma and Pa confided that we will lose the farm if dairy and crop prices keep going down. I wish there was something I could do about that. I tried to give Pa my two-dollar nest egg a couple of weeks ago but he wouldn’t take it. Yesterday Ma told me to use the money to go to the movies with Jean, but I can’t do that with our farm in jeopardy.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to sneak behind Ma’s back and go to May Hendrick’s house after school to confront her about the baby. I feel guilty about it but, by gosh, May Hendrick was wrong to bury her baby and blame me. I’m going over there and get a confession come hell or high water.”



What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on another historical novel, again set in rural Michigan in 1934. In this book twenty-year-old Polly is suddenly widowed. As the book unfolds, it’s unclear if her husband’s death was a suicide, homicide, or bizarre farm accident. There are plenty of twists to keep you guessing. The working title is VEILS: A Depression-Era Tale.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Actually, not until my first book was published. I worked in an academic environment at the University of Michigan, and if you called yourself a writer without anything published, people would simply roll their eyes.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Yes, I do write full-time and I’m a morning person, so I’m up early to walk the dogs, have a quick bite to eat, and then settle in behind my computer. I’m fortunate to have a large spacious office with a door so I can shut out the world. I’m also an exercise fanatic so I punctuate writing with swimming, Zumba, or bicycling. I attempt to do the hardest work in the morning, and save marketing and easier tasks for the afternoon. Guilty pleasure: I have a sofa in my office, so if I find myself nodding off, I simply take a cat nap on the sofa for fifteen or twenty minutes.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I’m listening to an audio book while I’m walking or hiking I sometimes think about plot issues with the book I’m currently writing. It seems strange and counter-intuitive that I could do this while spoken words are being delivered into my ears. But it happens!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I love to hear from readers. Let me know about your likes and dislikes. What is going on in your life right now? If you want to subscribe to my free newsletter, go to my website and sign up.

Links:

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
You’re welcome!


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Thursday, September 17, 2020

New interview with legal thriller author Heath Daniels

I’m happy to welcome Heath Daniels back to the blog to chat about his latest novel – a new international legal thriller, Don’t Fence Me In.

In December of 2017, Heath was here and chatted about two of his novels Three Kisses and Day of Judgment.

Bio:
For many years during his professional career as a professor focusing on international issues, Heath Daniels travelled the world and lived in several countries where he made a point of involving himself in local culture, politics, and friendships. While living in the Middle East in late 2005, he received inspirations and strong motivations to write his first novel, Three Kisses, about an anti-U.S. group’s attempts to infiltrate the U.S. using Russian medical technology.

Since then, he continued to travel and move. The same characters that came to life in his first novel metaphorically pressured and inspired him to continue to tell their stories of international espionage, intrigue, adventure, legal drama, and continued infiltration of the U. S. Each time he received such inspiration he sat down to his computer and began writing the stories that are now well-received U.S, historical novels focusing on current events. Many events he has written about fictionally have actually happened at a later time. Characters reflect persons he has encountered directly or indirectly, not always under favorable circumstances; there are no stereotypes.

Now he spends most of his time in the U.S. but still traveling internationally when opportunities present themselves. When not thinking of ways to spoil his grandchildren, traveling, or writing, he reads and is involved in spiritual activities that inspire the themes of empathy, respect, and acceptance that are woven through all his works.

He has written four novels.

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Heath.
Please tell us about your newest release.
Russia, with the help of Iran and North Korea, has dug a tunnel under the Mexico-U.S. border to infiltrate the U.S. as the U.S. teeters on the precipice of civil destruction. Behind the cacophony of chaos, a sinister secret group of presumed diplomats based in Mexico orchestrates their infiltrators to enter the U.S. and conduct acts of terrorism to collapse the United States from within. There are frequent bombings of prominent institutions.  In addition, during this period there are lengthy government shutdowns and mass illegal immigrant detainments adding to the chaos. At the epicenter of the activity, where the Texas, New Mexico, and Mexican borders meet, key civil servants of the United States investigate and bring perpetrators to justice.

Muslim-American U.S. Deputy Attorney General, Yusef Shaito, is suddenly thrust into a position of leadership under intense scrutiny of the media and the general public, with everyone judging the implications behind every prosecution and sentencing. Issues of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and citizenship are all called into question, with no stone unturned in this thrilling examination of what makes the U.S. what it is today and how susceptible it is to collapse if it doesn’t find a way to come together. 

What inspired you to write this book?
When my third book, Justice!, was published, mentally I began to compose my memoirs. Many persons have said that I really need to write my memoirs soon because they would be so interesting. I even had a title for a book of memoirs and some idea of how I would organize the contents. Then, suddenly, inspirations came into my mind to write a fourth novel based on current events of the day. Russians were using many means to infiltrate and create chaos in the U.S. to bring down the society and democracy. Because of the Maria Butina and other scandals, U.S. authorities had become much too vigilant for the Russians to continue creating chaos from within the country. So, now, why not write about Russia’s infiltration, with help from Iran and North Korea, countries that had their own reasons for damaging the U.S., by coming in through the back door, Mexico. Inspirations just began to flow. The U.S.-Mexico border had its own set of issues as widely reported by the media and Russia could take advantage of that discord. Dig a tunnel to get people and bomb-making supplies into the U.S. from Mexico, and get people back under the border once things were stirred up. Characters from the previous books were in ideal positions to be sent to the border to continue the saga.


Excerpt from Don’t Fence Me In:
Wednesday, November 28, 2017
San Antonio, Texas, USA
It was mid-morning on a warm, sunny day, typical of late fall in South Texas, when Yusef Shaito entered the office of John Holmes, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, one of the largest, if not the largest, judicial districts in the U.S. in both population and geographic size. Yusef was the deputy U.S. attorney for the district. He focused primarily on human and civil rights, and was viewed as one of the nation’s experts on hate crimes. He took the position almost three years previously after exemplary service in the U.S. Attorney General Headquarters in Washington, DC. He was in his early thirties and stood five feet nine inches with slightly curly black hair and a trim build.

John Holmes was fairly new in the position, having been appointed three months earlier by the Trump administration and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He had been the deputy in another U.S. judicial district and recently moved to San Antonio with a promotion. He was of average height and build, about five feet ten inches, with neatly trimmed brown hair. He was in his middle forties, young for a senior position. Both Yusef and John were professionally dressed with suit, dress shirt, and tie, their suit coats hanging in their offices.

Yusef and John had developed a good working relationship during the relatively short period John had been on the job, but they were not close and remained mostly professional in their
interactions. Yusef immediately took a seat, not feeling a need to wait until asked.

After pleasantries, John said, “First of the year we need you to move to El Paso temporarily.”

Yusef, stunned, blurted out, “What? Move to El Paso? Now?”

“Yes. As you know, Emiliano is retiring early to go into private practice, leaving a big vacancy at the top. Lots of things are going on in the El Paso area, and a good defense attorney, especially one with previous experience with the AG like Emiliano, would be in
demand and do well.”

“What about Susana? She’s number two there and doing a good job.”

“Yes, she seems to be doing a good job. But, if we promoted her, even temporarily, it would leave another hole. Things are shorthanded there anyway, and we don’t have authority to hire right now. Besides, just between you and me, Susana’s a great number two, but I’m not sure if she has the personality and style to take over, even if just temporarily. You are forceful but unassuming, and they all like you and respect you.”

“Thanks for the compliment,” Yusef said. “You know I focus on human and civil rights. Drug trafficking and immigration are not my thing, and that’s what they have a lot of there.”

“I know. When I was there to get to know them, Gerard was taking the lead in handling drug issues and doing very well. He can keep on handling the drug cases under you. The other staff all deal well with immigration issues. As you’re no doubt aware, it’s human rights and civil rights issues that are becoming much more important with migrants from Central America. El Paso doesn’t have strength in that area. With you in charge, we’ll have that covered. You’ll still be in charge of human and civil rights for the whole district, but you can
handle that from El Paso just as well as you can from here.”

“You know I’m Muslim,” Yusef continued. “This administration doesn’t seem to like Muslims, to put it mildly. How would they react to my being there? I can keep a low profile here, which I would likely do Muslim or not. But head of a division is higher profile.”


What’s the next writing project?
Inspirations are coming to me for the next novel, mostly inspirations for subplots and some characters. The main thing missing is the beginning that sets a thread for a plot to be carried through the book. Last night in a dream the ending for this fifth book just came to me. I still need the beginning, though. *smile* When the inspiration comes for the beginning, I’ll start the next novel. Almost certainly it will be necessary to wait until the 2020 election in the U.S. is over; there is too much uncertainty to latch onto a plot.

The notion of memoirs is also there when the inspiration comes.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
Putting distractions aside in order to sit at a computer and write!

If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
While I am writing, if I come to a place in the story line where I need to fill in details, I do the research. Only once did I do some research at the beginning. For the third book, Justice!, I knew that my lead character needed to continue to move up in his career. He had moved up with promotions as far as he could at the U.S. Attorney General office in Washington, D.C. until someone retired or died. In order to continue to progress up the career ladder, he would have to transfer to one of the 90+ judicial districts in the U.S. It couldn’t be just any judicial district, but instead a big and important one. Research showed me that one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in both population and geographic size, is the Western District of Texas with headquarters in San Antonio. Because I am very familiar with western Texas and could easily write about it, it was a very fortunate result of research.

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
While I can’t say the muse is more active here, my writing space is my home multi-purpose room where I have my desk, computer, etc., i.e. a home office. It is also an extra sitting room, has a couch that makes into a bed for a guest bedroom, and serves many other purposes. That is why it is multi-purpose.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
One of my favorites lately is John Grisham. I have discovered that his genre and mindset are very similar to mine, although I was not that familiar with John Grisham before I started writing my books.

Also, I have re-discovered Allen Drury who had cult following when I was in university more years ago than I want to admit. Drury wrote about political events in the late 1950s into the 1960s that included Russian infiltration (the Soviet Union in those days) of the U.S. Drury’s books confirm the old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Because I re-discovered Drury after I had written three books, I can’t say I got any inspiration from him, but there are many similarities in genre although I pointedly avoid partisan politics.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Your feedback, comments, and reviews are always very welcome.

Links:

Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Interview with paranormal novelist Barb Jones

Paranormal novelist Barb Jones is here today and we’re chatting about Blood Prophecy Three: Queen’s Ascension.

During her virtual book tour, Barb will be awarding a $15 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, Barb. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Hawaii, a place rich with culture and storytellers. As a little girl, scary tales about vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, and witches were my favorite kind — much to my mother's dismay.

The scarier, the better.

My love for the supernatural never went away, even after moving to Seattle, far from Hawaii's majestic beaches with unusual colors. Nothing compares to the landscapes of Maui, Lanai, or Oahu. But somehow, Seattle stole my heart anyway. It became the place where my love for stories took on a new form, in a book of my own: The Adventures of Little Arthur and Merlin the Magnificent. This book is for kids who love stories, just like I did.

Then I had an idea while sleeping.

One night, my mind began to work overtime. In a dream, I saw a unique storyline involving all the races and an epic battle of good versus evil. It was a modern day plot with a three thousand year old prophecy, The Blood Prophecy. I finished the first book in 2014, The Queen's Destiny. Two years later, I released The Queen's Enemy. The last book in the series, The Queen's Ascension, released on August 17, 2020.

Today, I live in Florida with its beaches and sunshine. But I'm still a Seattle girl at heart. And so all my stories take place in the Northwest.

I always keep to my roots when I write.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Queen’s Ascension is the third book in the series that brings Amber closer to fulfilling her destiny. For a millennia, a prophecy has been foretold that a Queen will unite the supernatural races in an epic battle that will test everything she holds dear. Her friends, her love, her life – all will be tested as she prepares for the prophecy to come true.

What inspired you to write this book?
The original storyline for Queen’s Destiny came from a dream but once I started creating this world, the rest just evolved into the series as we know it today.

Excerpt from Blood Prophecy Three: Queen’s Ascension:
Merlin, Camelot, 1276
Deep within the woods surrounding Camelot, Merlin, a strapping young man with sharp blue eyes and dark black hair, and knowledge that surpassed his years, ran through the trees, darting past the shrubbery in hopes of reaching his destination.
Out of breath, he stopped in front of a wall of foliage and flowers. With a wave of his hand, he whispered, “Eowan,” and revealed a hidden door within the cobblestone wall. A charge of wind pushed his hair back as he entered the passageway, and behind him, the wall was sealed once more.

With every step he took, fire illuminated his path, until finally, he reached the opening, a large room filled with herbs and ancient ingredients. The rickety shelves on the walls were lined with books and scrolls.

He eyed the cauldron within the hearth and said, “Ignis flamma,” and a fire lit underneath the kettle and quickly started to bubble. Merlin racked the shelves looking for a specific book he had in mind.

“Aha.” He found the volume and reached for it. In his hands, he had a delicately crafted book, made from worn soft leather with embossed writing which read, Balocræftum. He blew on the cover to rid it from the dust and cracked it open. While perusing the pages, he flipped through eagerly. Merlin found what he was in search of.

In the middle was a hole gouged out from the pages. He reached inside and pulled out an amulet, magnificently encrusted with all sorts of gems and diamonds. It radiated light and glowed. He pulled it up to his face and inspected it, the jewel aglow in his visage. His eyes sparkled in admiration.


What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve decided to continue the series. I wasn’t ready for it to end and neither were the readers. So, I have already started Book Four: The Rise of the Hunter.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think when I was 9. I wrote a story for Language Arts at St. Anthony’s School in Hawaii. My fourth grade teacher told me that if I kept up my writing and storytelling, I can be a writer. She even told me to think of myself as a writer beginning that 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?
I actually work as a Senior Level (Executive) IT Consultant, Personal Fitness Trainer and Nutrition Coach. It’s a busy day but I am primarily in IT. I love Fitness so much that I became a trainer and paired it with healthy eating. That’s the day job. But in the evenings and on weekends, I write. I don’t miss a day of writing, even if it is just a paragraph. I’m a perfectionist so I will rewrite my endings until I find the one perfect for me and the characters. With two grown kids, it makes it easier to find the time too.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Probably that I can write anywhere and I mean it! On a date, during a run or workout in the gym, anytime I get a thought I want to put it down!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always knew I wanted to be a mom. But, I also wanted to be an astronaut. I was so intrigued by the Space Program and the Engineering behind the shuttle.

Links:

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!


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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Interview with juvenile fiction author Sherry Ellis

Today’s special guest is juvenile fiction author Sherry Ellis and we are chatting about Bubba and Squirt’s Mayan Adventure.

Sherry is sponsoring a tour-wide giveaway. She is giving away ten (10) autographed print copies of the book open to all. Be sure to enter using the form below. The giveaway ends at midnight on Oct. 17th. The full listing for her tour stops is at the bottom of this post.

Bio:
Sherry Ellis is an award-winning author and professional musician who plays and teaches the violin, viola, and piano. When she is not writing or engaged in musical activities, she can be found doing household chores, hiking, or exploring the world. 

Ellis has previously published Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China; Don’t Feed the Elephant; Ten Zany Birds; That Mama is a Grouch; and That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN

She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Welcome, Sherry. Please tell us about your current release.
Bubba and Squirt’s Mayan Adventure is the second installment in the Bubba and Squirt’s Adventures series. The two young protagonists travel through the mysterious portal and find themselves at the ancient Mayan ruins of Altun Ha. They befriend archeologists who are unearthing priceless artifacts. But someone is stealing them. It’s their job to find out who. Thrown into the mix are characters from Mayan folklore who add an element of magic to the story.

What inspired you to write this book?
In 1998, I took a trip to Belize and saw Altun Ha. Since I found the place fascinating and wanted to teach kids about Mayan history and culture, it made sense to make this the setting for Bubba and Squirt’s second adventure.


Excerpt from Bubba and Squirt’s Mayan Adventure:
We climbed the steps and stood at the opening. Guess what we saw? A pyramid with no point on top, like the one from my dream. It was in the middle of a grassy field, and it had lots of steps. And do you know what else? Behind the pyramid was a jungle. A real one with palm trees and tropical plants. You wouldn’t believe the noise! I needed earplugs for all those bird chirps and bug sounds. I took a deep breath, and it smelled like mud puddles.
            “I think we’re in Mexico!”
            Squirt shrugged. “Maybe. I know we’re not in Egypt. Egyptian pyramids don’t look like that. Plus, we’re in a jungle, not a desert.”
            “Correctomundo, Captain Obvious. Come on. Let’s check it out!”
            I took off lickety-split to the pyramid and climbed the steps. But when I got to step number thirty-two, I had to take a break. Sweat leaked out of my forehead and dripped into my eyes. Sitting down, I looked around.
            I spotted another pyramid, but it was shorter than the one I was on, and it was covered with grass. Someone needed to get a lawnmower. A line of white steps went to the top.
            I looked down. Squirt was at the bottom.
            “Bubba wait!” she said.
            But I didn’t. I wanted to get to the top first. So I kept climbing. Those steep, narrow steps were tricky. A couple of times my feet slipped, and I almost fell.
            I finally made it, but boy was I thirsty! They should’ve put a drinking fountain at the top. Wishing for water, I sat down and waited for Squirt.
            She huffed and puffed. Sweat made her stringy, brown hair stick to her face. She stopped in the middle and looked up. “How many are there?”
            “Steps?”
            “Yeah.”
            “Ninety-two.” I didn’t really know, but it sounded good. I’d lost track after forty-seven.
            Squirt frowned and continued climbing. When she reached the top, she grabbed her hair and lifted it off her neck. Then she let out a big breath and plopped down next to me.
            “About time, slow poke!”
            Squirt gave me a tummy jab.
            “Check out the other pyramid,” I said.
            Squirt nodded. “There are more stone things over there.”
            She was right. Crumbling gray buildings made of giant stone blocks were everywhere. They must’ve been part of an ancient city. I looked at the structure we’d come out of. Compared to the others, it was in good shape. The building looked like a stone rectangle with a door. Easy to spot whenever we had to go back.
            “What do you think we’re supposed to do here?” Squirt asked.
            “Beats me. But it would be nice if they had a burrito shop. I’m hungry.”
            Squirt rolled her eyes. “Seriously? We’re stuck in who-knows-where, and all you can think of is food?”
            “And something to drink.”
            “Yeah, I guess that would be nice.”


What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the next three Bubba and Squirt adventures which will be a trilogy. I’ve completed the first draft of the first one and am almost done with the first draft of the second. That’ll leave one more. The working titles are Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones (to the catecombs of Paris), Bubba and Squirt’s Shield of Athena (to Greece), and Bubba and Squirt’s Legend of the Lost Pearl (to Japan).

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I don’t think I actually considered myself a writer until my first book, That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN was published. That was in 2005.

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?
Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’m a full-time writer. I am an Executive Director for an orchestra (the Georgia Philharmonic), which takes a lot of time, and I also teach and perform (violin, viola, and piano). Finding time to write is challenging. I usually go in spurts, which means it takes me a long time to crank out a story. I try to fit in a chapter a week, writing a few days a week, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write all my stories by hand in a notebook. I’ve tried to be a “normal” writer and sit at my keyboard, but it just doesn’t flow as easily. I literally have to use a pencil and paper.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut and opera singer. I used to love to sing when I was young. I’m not sure what happened, but even through I’m a professional musician, I don’t sing much. I am, however, still fascinated by space. I think going into space would be interesting, but I’m happy staying on planet Earth and just observing the photos from satellites and telescopes.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
There are activities and teacher guides that go with each of my Bubba and Squirt books. Visit  https://www.bubbaandsquirt.org/ for details.

Links:

Thanks for being here today!
Thank you for having me as a guest!


Feel free to visit Sherry at other stops during her tour:
Monday, Sept. 14 - Write With Fey - Guest Post
Alex J. Cavanaugh - Guest Post
Tuesday, Sept. 15 - Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews - Interview
Wednesday, Sept. 16 - The Story of a Writer - Review
Thursday, Sept. 17 - Book Reviews by Pat Garcia - Review
Friday, Sept. 18 - Booked Solid with Virginia C - Feature
Rockin' Book Reviews - Review & Top Ten List
Monday, Sept. 21 - Just Jemi - Review & Interview
Anna del C. Dye Official Page - Excerpt
Tuesday, Sept. 22 - Baroness' Book Trove - Review
Saturday, Sept. 26 - Storeybook Reviews - Excerpt
Monday, Sept. 28 - Elizabeth Spann Craig's Blog - Guest Post
Joylene Nowell Butler - Excerpt
Journaling Woman - Feature
Wednesday, Sept. 30 - Nesie's Place - Excerpt
Friday, Oct. 2 - Thoughts in Progress - Review
Monday, Oct. 5 - The Sexy Nerd "Revue" - Excerpt
Wednesday, Oct. 7 - Willow Writes and Reads - Review
Friday, Oct. 9 - Celticlady's Reviews - Excerpt
Monday, Oct. 12 - Literary Rambles - Interview
Wednesday, Oct. 14 - Writer's Gambit - Feature & Top 10 List  


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