Wednesday, October 7, 2015



In this touching, often humorous and very personal account, Bernie shares his 86 years of life, love, loss and laughter as an inspirational guide to what it means to age without growing old. His advice on love after 60, how to talk with family members about illness, what you should be prepared for when confronting tragedy and loss, what it means to be a caregiver to a loved one, and many other of life’s challenges are a must for family members young and old.

Mr. Otis’s book is a treasure trove of personal and professional life experiences that will help you prepare for old age and take control of the nature of aging. Be prepared to laugh out loud and quietly shed a tear as Bernie takes you through the voyage of life.


Bernard S. (Bernie) Otis is a delightful and well known speaker, writer and community leader who has made his 65-year career in the food service facility planning, marketing, management, sales and consulting industries. His life’s work has included service to many hotels and restaurants in Southern California, Santa Clarita, San Diego, Las Vegas, and New York City among others. He has been instrumental in serving several top companies such as Hewlett Packard and Disneyland as well as major hospitals, universities and restaurants around the country. His community involvement includes work with the National Indian Gaming Association and the Rotary Club (where he has been a member since 1954 and a Paul Harris Fellow). After his wife’s death in 2012, Bernie, a trained Hospice caregiver, began working with families of terminally-ill patients.

Connect with Bernie:

Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Monday, October 5, 2015



A terrorist’s plot, the assassination of a prime minister, holds the key to an apocalyptic plan to destroy Europe’s economy. It’s impossible to stop, but one man doesn’t know enough to think the world can’t be saved. He’s no hero; not clever or capable, talented or tested. The Hollow Man is just trying to survive in an uncertain climate where terrorism is changing the rules of how we live.


Paul, how did you get started writing and when did you become an “author?”

After retiring early from my day job, I used to sit with friends on the porch of my country home to reminisce. We spat tobacco juice into the yard as we took turns telling old stories. Okay, it was the local pub and none of us dipped or smoked. Curiously though, the group was always interested in my stories. One encouraged me to write a book about a few of my early exploits. She asked, “Do you have something better to do?” Apparently, I didn’t.

It was more fun than I imagined. The manuscript took a year to draft, rewrite several times, professionally edit, and publish. But I didn’t feel like a real author until I held a copy of the paperback in my hand.

That is an awesome feeling. What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
I love writing dialogue. This is where characters come to life. We can describe their idiosyncrasies and characteristics. We can position them with thoughts and feelings. We can thrust them into circumstances to watch them squirm. But what comes out of their mouths immediately adds a third dimension to their being and the character jumps off the page.

How long is your to-be-read list?
My to-be-read list is down to about twenty. It contains the latest from Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Jonathan Kellerman, Kathy Reichs, and Lee Child. I learn something about plotting, characters or building suspense every time I read their books.

What books do you currently have published?
To date, I have published one book called The Hollow Man.

The Hollow Man traces some of my experiences traveling through Europe as a young man. At the time, terrorism was on the rise and I had been assigned to learn as much as I could about it. Most early acts of terror were specific, personal and damage was focused on a distinct, definable enemy. But terrorism was beginning to change its strategy to the familiar, senseless chaos we recognize today. The death of political figures no longer seemed to bother us as much as these new, random attacks against our children. Targets of innocence became preferable for these people because this kind of shock and hurt hit closer to our hearts and the fear inside us grew larger with each incident.

How long have you been a writer?
My early life showed no signs of literary talent; in fact, I paid a girl to write a required poem for me in high school. But as they say, circumstances change. I entered university at the end of 1967 and fell into a blossoming subculture that reshaped my reality, figuratively and perhaps a little too literally. My majors became physiology and English literature so I could better understand people and maybe someday write about it. I began writing my own poetry and short subjects, but life happened soon after graduation. I placed all aspirations on hold and jumped into the world head first.

That is, until I retired from IBM in 2009. For forty years, something Ben Franklin said had bounced around my brain. “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” I thought I might cover both bases by writing about something I did as a young man. I’ve been a full-time writer since 2011.

How often do you tweet?
On average, I tweet about ten new and unique messages per day spread out more or less evenly over a sixteen hour period. With book marketing messages, I intersperse writing tips designed to help other writers with our craft.

I also retweet several hundred or more messages per day for followers. As important as my own tweets are to me, retweets demonstrate a real support of fellow authors and other followers.  Retweets tell Twitter followers you have read and liked their tweet and believe it is valuable information more people should read. As a result of this mutual respect, my own tweets are retweeted dozens of time and reach as many as a half million viewers.

Many of my strongest relationships over the years have been cultivated via mutual support. The followers who help get your message out to potential customers are key to selling books. Along with an author website/page and the type of visibility coming only from wonderful bloggers and reviewers like you, Twitter should be considered another cornerstone of any author’s social media platform.

How do you feel about Facebook?

Facebook is great for connecting with old friends and virtual friends, watching animal videos, pretending you’re an amateur psychiatrist, making fun of what everyone is eating, and being glad you ate what you did. A Facebook poster also has the option to send posts directly to other forms of social media like Twitter in case anyone missed their misery, attempt at humor, or this morning’s waffle special at Denny’s.

But it also has its downside. This form of social media is very time-consuming and a total distraction from writing. Every time I login, Facebook is like the worst movie I’ve ever watched but for some reason only a neurologist can answer, I must see the end to feel complete. There is no easier way for me to crawl under the covers with procrastination.

For what would you like to be remembered?
I want readers to remember I was a decent writer who entertained them for a while.

What scares you the most?
The dead. Here’s the true story of how I got my nickname, Doc:
When I was in high school, I took a job as a clean-up guy in a very busy mortuary owned by twin brothers. A few days into the first week, I was sweeping the basement where bodies were kept for embalming prep. A scratching noise broke into the music in my head. I glanced up through the dim light and dust to see a body slowly rising from a metal gurney. Strange sounds were coming from beneath the sheet. The thing was between me and the door.
As I sprinted by, I used the end of the broom as a jousting pole, knocking the body backward off the table. A thunk and a moan reached after me, but I kept running; up the stairs, past the chapel, through the main office, and out the front door. I was two blocks away by the time one of the brothers caught me in his car. He had to cut off my path to get me to stop.

“Hey,” he yelled out the window. “That was just my brother Bob having a little fun with you.”

“I quit,” I said.

“Sorry. All right then, come on by and pick up the money we owe you.”

“You can keep it.”

He sat looking at me a long time before speaking again.

“Can I have my broom back,” he finally said.

That's a great story. What five things would you never want to live without?
I thought a lot about this question. The five things I couldn’t live without are indoor plumbing, hammers, automatic weapons, a third grade education, and Wal-Mart Super Centers for all my hunting and gathering needs. Life would be good.

Who would you want to narrate a film about your life?
Chris Rock because life should be a comedy, not a tragedy.

If you had a swear jar, would it be full?
Hell, yeah!

Great answer. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m a little of both in a passive aggressive sort of way. I’m an extrovert until my mouth gets me into trouble, then I turn introvert fueled by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
The most daring thing I’ve ever done was imagining I had a story to tell that people might want to read. I hadn’t written anything of this magnitude before and knew being an author was no easy job. To succeed, I had to see it as simply another of my first-time adventures like Woodstock, living in Paris without a word of French in my pocket, or jumping from an airplane then wondering if my chute was going to open.

In writing and publishing The Hollow Man, there were remembered experiences to sort through. Bits of which I never imagined would ever come to light. Yet there were the events, the people, and the stress, neatly packaged into a strange sequence of words called a novel. And I hoped no one would run away.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” -Oscar Wilde Authors take note. Even a bad review is still a review. 

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
A gentleman from County Cork, Ireland gave me my worst review, a two star slapping across the face. “I gave up on this novel after chapter 11. I kept waiting for the story to ignite and engage my attention but it failed to do so. I am at a loss to account for the rave reviews it has on Amazon.”

My first reaction was, he’s really not going to like the sequel to The Hollow Man. London Bridge Is Falling Down chronicles the ‘Troubles’ between England and Ireland during the 1970’s. But honestly, a writer should remember your book isn’t macaroni and cheese. It will never please everyone, every time. Listen to criticism and extract meaningful thoughts. Examine the critic’s statements from all sides then apply what needs to be applied. Be honest with yourself and you’ll know what should be done.

You're right. You can be the ripest, juiciest, sweetest peach, but there will always be people who don't like peaches. 
Do you have a favorite book?
More than any book I can read over and over, I continue to be drawn back to my favorite twentieth-century poets. The poetry of T.S. Elliot, W.H. Auden, and Dylan Thomas has done more to shape who I am as a writer than any other. An American, an Englishman, and a Welshman have taught me in my writing to search for the exact word needed by its sound, its meaning, its shape, and its feel to create my own form of poetry in my prose. At the very least, their words never fail to lift me above whatever sea bottom I may be roaming at the moment.

How about a favorite book that was turned into a movie? Did the movie stink?
One of my favorite books is The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. The book is an early classic thriller from John Le Carre portraying Western espionage methods as morally inconsistent with democratic values. Though movies must represent the details of a full length novel in an hour-and-a-half slice across the top of the iceberg, I thought the original movie version generally kept the author’s feel and intent intact. Scenes had an air of authenticity throughout, helped by the black and white photography.

If you had to choose a cliché about life, what would it be?

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a sequel to The Hollow Man called London Bridge is Falling Down.  By the early 1970’s, animosities between England and Ireland had become razor sharp. Mass bombings and cross border clashes were constant reminders of Ireland’s struggle to be united and free. The media had dubbed these conflicts “The Troubles” which had already claimed almost a thousand lives and there was no end in sight. Militant activities were spiking amid rumors the IRA had developed a list of targets designed to bring England to her knees. Like The Hollow Man, London Bridge is Falling Down is based on true events and includes some of the same, unforgettable characters. Surviving Prague is the third installment.

Lightning round:
Cake or frosting? Frosting
Laptop or desktop? Laptop
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Bill Murray
Emailing or texting? Both
Indoors or outdoors? Indoors
Tea: sweet or unsweet? Unsweet (diabetic)
Plane, train, or automobile? Any, as long as it’s going somewhere.


Paul Hollis always had wanderlust, living in twelve states and eventually working in all fifty, luring him with the idea of touring the world at someone else’s expense. He has lived and worked in forty-eight countries across five continents while teaching companies about growing global implications.

Paul’s travel experiences inspire the novels in The Hollow Man series, bringing the streets and villages of Europe to life and offering a unique viewpoint to his mesmerizing thrillers.

Connect with Paul:

Website  |  
Blog  |  
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Saturday, October 3, 2015



Max. The consummate ladies’ man.
He’s good looking, but not an absolute knockout. With Max’s charm though, he could have any woman he wants. Once he meets Faith, he doesn’t want anyone else.

Eli. He is a knockout.
But a dark past shadows him and holds him captive. Drinking dulls the pain, but meeting Faith makes him want to change all that.

Faith. She loves them both.
When a blackout brings her together with Eli, she’s happier than she’s ever been before. When another blackout tears them apart, Max is there to pick up the pieces. But can she forget the man who first made her whole?


M.J., how long have you been a writer?
As long as I can remember. In second grade I wrote a thrilling book entitled – wait for it – The Black Cat. It was written on blue hotel stationary my dad brought home from a business trip, because I thought it was pretty. The binding was white yarn bows threaded through holes I’d punched in the paper. The girl down the street, Mary Ellen Murphey, co-authored it. She was also my partner in a buckeye business that never quite took off.

How long is your to-be-read list?
Never ending! I’m fortunate to know a lot of great writers and unfortunate to not be independently wealthy. I try to keep at it, though!

You have a day job . . . how do you find time to write?
Luckily, my day job is a lunch lady, so I’m off at one o’clock. I come home, take a nap, and then get to work.

For what would you like to be remembered?

For raising four happy adults.

What scares you the most?

Mice! I freak out so badly I often injure myself while running away. I know they can’t hurt me, but they could run up my leg. They skitter. That’s just not natural. And phobias aren’t logical.

YouTube is . . . a place where you can get lost!

What five things would you never want to live without?

My husband and four kids.

Who would you want to narrate a film about your life?
Morgan Freeman. Is there any other choice?

Nope, I don't think so. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Depends on the day. Mostly an introvert, but I karaoke, so I guess I have a bit of the extrovert in me.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
Climbed over a twenty-foot fence, in the rain, in my rock and roll boots, to get backstage at a rock concert.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?

See above.

Sadly, those two questions often do go hand in hand. What is your most embarrassing moment?
Once, when I was in church, praying devoutly, my daughter asked me, “Why do you have a sock on your shoulder?” I had been sorting laundry when we left the house and must have slung the sock there and forgotten about it!

That's totally a harried-mom thing to do! What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
I would have liked to study writing in college and started pursuing it earlier in life.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, 'You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done.'" Or "Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup." Or "All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us ... they can't get away this time."
-- Louis B. "Chesty" Puller, Lt. Gen., USMC  Talk about a positive attitude!

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?

Beth Donovan from Trapped Under Ice, because then rock star Chad Evans would love me!

What is your favorite movie?
What About Bob?

Do you have a favorite book?
A Tale of Two Cities

Do you sweat the small stuff?
I did before I had triplets.

How long is your to-do list?

It is infinite.

What are you working on now?
The third and final installment of my Romantic Knights trilogy, A Knight to Remember.

Lightning round:

Cake or frosting? Oooh! Toughie! . . . Cake!
Laptop or desktop? laptop
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Both are comic geniuses, but I’m going to have to go Bill Murray.
Emailing or texting? Texting. More interactive.
Indoors or outdoors? In.
Tea: sweet or unsweet? I don’t do tea. I’m more of a Diet Pepsi girl.
Plane, train, or automobile? Plane. Farther, faster.


Taken by Storm
Trapped Under Ice
Abandon All Hope
An Uncommon Love
Rock Me
The Heart Teaches Best
Upon a Midnight Clear
Damage Done

Leap Into The Knight
Lady of the Knight
Between Rock and a Hard Place


M.J. Schiller is a lunch lady/romance-romantic suspense writer. She enjoys writing novels whose characters include rock stars, desert princes, teachers, futuristic Knights, construction workers, cops, and a wide variety of others. In her mind everybody has a romance. She is the mother of a twenty-year-old and three eighteen-year-olds. That's right, triplets! So having recently taught four children to drive, she likes to escape from life on occasion by pretending to be a rock star at karaoke. However . . . you won’t be seeing her name on any record labels soon.

Connect with M.J.:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:

Amazon  | Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo   |  iTunes 

Thursday, October 1, 2015



Check in for some Southern hospitality in Plantation Shudders, the Cajun Country series debut from Ellen Byron.

It's the end of the summer and Prodigal Daughter Maggie Crozat has returned home to her family's plantation-turned-bed-and-breakfast in Louisiana. The Crozats have an inn full of guests for the local food festival – elderly honeymooners, the Cajun Cuties, a mysterious stranger from Texas, a couple of hipster lovebirds, and a trio of Georgia frat boys. But when the elderly couple keels over dead within minutes of each other – one from very unnatural causes – Maggie and the others suddenly become suspects in a murder.


Ellen, how did you get started writing and when did you become an “author?”

I began my career as an actress. I got bored waiting around between roles and started writing plays. They got me way more attention than my acting did, so a writer was born! I became a freelance journalist to support myself, and eventually segued into television. Because I spent years doing improv comedy, I wound up writing mostly for sitcoms like Wings and Just Shoot Me.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
Finding a fresh way to say something familiar.

How long is your to-be-read list?

It’s not a list, it’s a bookcase! I buy books at stores and library sales and online, and I have a bookcase-ful. But I have a list, too. So maybe . . . a hundred?

Can you share some of your marketing strategies with us?
I’m really just finding my way as I go in that area. I’m guest-blogging – like here! – and running contests through my own website, and on Facebook through I tweet whenever possible, and grab any chance to do a signing or panel that I can. I’m lucky because CLB has a wonderful publicist who lined up some great blog stops for me.

How long have you been a writer?
Since I was twenty-seven. But I won’t tell you how old I am because no TV writer ever shares their age. There’s too much ageism in the business.

You have a day job . . . how do you find time to write?
Our daughter is a sophomore in high school and has a zero period class. I drop her at 7 a.m., and then come home, walk the dogs, and start writing until I have to leave for work around 10 a.m. Then I write after dinner and on weekends.

How often do you tweet?

Once or twice a day.

How do you feel about Facebook?
I’m a fan. I’ve been on Facebook since 2008. I love that it’s allowed me to re-connect with old friends that I thought I’d never be in contact with again. And lately I’ve gotten to FB-know all these great mystery writers I’m meeting through conferences and groups like Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. I recently started an author page, which has been a great way to connect with readers. I love when they touch base.

For what would you like to be remembered?

For being funny, warm, and giving.

What scares you the most?

Flying!! And death – especially death by flying! As I write this, I’m thinking, what if I die in a plane crash, and then someone reads this and thinks, oh, it’s so sad and ironic that she just told A Blue Million Books that was what she was most afraid of!

That's a writer's mind for you! What five things would you never want to live without?
My husband, daughter, dogs, laughter, and money. I know it’s a little crass to list money, but I’m being honest. There ain’t much laughter when you’re low on dough.

True. Who would you want to narrate a film about your life?
Tina Fey.

If you had a swear jar, would it be full?

No. It would be overflowing!

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Oh, definitely an extrovert.

What's your relationship with your TV remote?
Since I’m writing day and night, I hardly see it anymore.

Do you spend more on clothes or food?
Food. I barely attempt being stylish anymore. I found these great black cotton drawstring pants at Target. I went to buy another pair, but couldn’t find them in Juniors or Misses. A salesgirl checked, and told me that they were men’s pajama bottoms. Did that stop me? No. I have five pairs and wear them all the time.

What is the biggest lie you ever told?
When I was about five, I was using the bathroom and as I sat there, I absentmindedly pulled off a loose piece of wallpaper. When my furious parents asked if I’d done it, I said no. So they blamed my younger brother, who burst into tears. I still feel terrible about it. I apologized to him years ago, and he didn’t even remember the incident. But I’ve never forgotten it. I feel bad even writing this!

What is the most daring thing you've done?
Two things I swore I’d never do were ride on a motorcycle or in a helicopter. Then on a vacation, I got trapped in a snowstorm in Zermatt, Switzerland. I was supposed to meet my parents and brother in Venice, Italy, the next day. I kept checking at the hotel desk to see if there was any way out of Zermatt, and they finally said that the only way was by helicopter. I hesitated for maybe a second, and then said, “Sign me up!” It was like the fall of Saigon at the helicopter pad. They were throwing people on the copters and waving them off. It was actually a really gorgeous ride. We didn’t fly that high up due to the storm, and there were forests of snow-laden pine trees below us. I made it onto a train to Italy, thank God. I heard that my helicopter was the last one out that day.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
Opened my big mouth to the wrong person about something that was none of my business.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

Um . . . wearing men’s pajama bottoms as pants everywhere?

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on (besides wearing men's pajama bottoms everywhere)?

See “what’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done.” And I wouldn’t mind taking another crack at some business opportunities I passed on.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“Forward ever, backward never.” It’s from The Year of Janie’s Diary, a book I read in 7th grade. When I go to that “shoulda, woulda, coulda” place, I recall that quote and get back on track.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?

I love all libraries, but my favorite might have to be the Scarsdale Public Library. My parents moved to the town when I was ten, and the library was only a few blocks from our house. It was old and made of fieldstone, and it had the most beautiful reading room (or maybe it was the children’s library) with a giant bay window.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
A guest at one of Jay Gatsby’s incredible Jazz age parties.

Who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone in the world?

Tina Fey, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, and Emily Bronte.

What's your relationship with your cell phone?
Way too tight. My excuse is that as a working mom, I need it to keep in touch with my daughter, which is totally true. But really, I could do that with a flip phone. So who am I kidding?

How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

Usually about five. Which sucks. I want more, I really do. I just always wake up way before I need to. It’s nuts because when I lived in New York City, I was a total night owl.

What is your favorite movie?
I have three: Amarcord, The Haunting (original version), and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Do you have a favorite book?
Oh, yes. Wuthering Heights.

How about a favorite book that was turned into a movie? Did the movie stink?

I love Great Expectations, and I’ve actually enjoyed every version of that I’ve seen. And I’ve seen a lot.

Do you sweat the small stuff?

Honest to God, I’m not even sure what the small stuff is anymore. Remember, I only get five hours of sleep.

If you had to choose a cliché about life, what would it be?
“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

How long is your to-do list?
I add to it every day, so . .  endless.

What are you working on now?
Book two in my Cajun Country series, Body on the Bayou.

Lightning round:
Cake or frosting? Frosting, fo sho!
Laptop or desktop? Both.
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Oh, no contest, Bill Murray.
Emailing or texting? Email. I have to text, but I hate it. I think it’s giving me Carpal Tunnel.
Indoors or outdoors?
Indoors. But I like to look at the outdoors from my indoor window.
Tea: sweet or unsweet?
I live on tea and it must be unsweetened. I love nothing more than a pure cup of green jasmine or Earl Grey.
Plane, train, or automobile?
My husband and I are train fiends. I’d go everywhere by train if I could. We took an Amtrak route called The Pioneer from Portland to Denver before it was discontinued. I have two embossed wine glasses from the trip that I’ve saved as mementoes.


Ellen Byron is a native New Yorker who loves the rain, lives in bone-dry Los Angeles, and spends lots of time writing about Louisiana. She attributes this obsession to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University. Her debut novel, Plantation Shudders: A Cajun Country Mystery, was chosen by the Library Journal as Debut Mystery of the Month. Her TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, and many network pilots. She’s written over 200 magazine articles, her published plays include the award-winning, Graceland, and she’s the recipient of a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant.

Connect with Ellen:
Website  |  Blog  |  
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015



Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.

Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.

The case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.

In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, the Lovers in Crime join newlyweds Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday to sift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives of the Thorny Rose uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?


Lauren, welcome back to A Blue Million Books! Kill and Run is your 16th book. What's your favorite thing about the writing process?

Oh, it’s the creative process — coming up with the plotline and figuring out how the murder is committed, who done it, how they are caught — all of that! For me, it is as close to being an amateur detective as you can get. They have the committed crime and work backward toward the beginning. I am at the beginning and working forward, through the crime, and right up to where the culprit is caught.

How long have you been a writer?
Let’s just say my whole life. I believe writers are born. If you’re a writer, even if you aren’t writing books, you’re a writer. You’re thinking up storylines in the shower instead of singing. If you’re late for work, you can’t just say traffic was terrible, you have to tell a whole story about it being a dark and stormy morning . . .

I remember rewriting The Bobbsey Twins when I was in grade school to make it more suspenseful. That’s what writers do.

For what would you like to be remembered?
For making everyone around me smile.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Introvert. Most writers are introverts — that’s what makes personal appearances hard for many writers. That’s why I love virtual book tours. I can do the whole tour naked!

TMI, Lauren! What is the most daring thing you've done?

Skydiving. I was nineteen years old and dating a great guy who had scheduled parachuting lessons for him and his buddy. Well, his friend backed out, so I asked to go. Thing is — I had never even been up in a plane before! When I told my mother, she said it was okay, but not to tell her what day I was doing it — instead, tell her that I was going on a picnic. So, a couple of days before the jump I asked her for eighty dollars for my picnic on Saturday.

On the day of the lessons, we had six hours of instruction before going up in the plane. Two hours was on how to jump and how to land. The next four hours were on what to do if something went wrong. One of the things they stressed was that when you hit the ground to stand up quickly so that they could see you were okay. If you don’t stand up, they’ll send out the ambulance.

So then, we went up in the plane for our jump. We were suited up with our parachutes and our reserve chutes and all of this equipment. Back then, I weighed about a hundred and ten pounds and I was wearing close to sixty pounds of chutes.

Then, we went up. Remember, I have never been in a plane before. I was more excited about that than the jump. Jon, my boyfriend, jumped out first. Then I jumped.

It was fabulous! I loved it. I could see Jon down on the ground waving and jumping up and down, and I was waving back.

Then, I hit the ground beautifully and rolled just like they told us to do. And then . . . I couldn’t stand up because I was wearing sixty pounds of chutes and equipment. I remembered them saying that I needed to stand up. So, I’m rolling on the ground in the field like a giant turtle on her back trying to get to my feet. In the distance, I hear the ambulance racing across the field and Jon yelling.

By the time I stood up I saw about a dozen people and an ambulance racing across the field toward me.

Jon told me that the whole time he was running across the field he was trying to think of how to tell my mother that I did great . . . until I hit the ground.

It was five years later before I went up in a plane and actually landed in it.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?

Recently or over the course of my life? Recently, I tried to install a new faucet in my kitchen sink by myself. I ended up breaking the garbage disposal and flooding the kitchen.

What is your most embarrassing moment?
Confessing to the plumber about how I broke the garbage disposal and flooded the kitchen.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
Deciding between calling a plumber or tackling that kitchen faucet on my own.

What would your main characters say about you?

There are two main characters in Kill and Run: Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton. An heiress, Jessica is Mac Faraday’s daughter. She would say that I was obsessive about my writing to the point of being a workaholic. The solution would be to spend a weekend at a spa without any Internet or technology.

On the other hand, Murphy Thornton would say that I had a brilliant mind — after all, I am the creator of three mystery series. However, it would do me some good to work on becoming more disciplined — especially when it comes to health and fitness. Cut out the chocolatey desserts and go to the gym more.

I'm liking Jessica much more! How long is your to-do list?
I don’t know. You need to ask my husband. He’s the one who makes it up and keeps track of it.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I am working on the eleventh Mac Faraday Mystery, Cancelled Vows. In this mystery, David O’Callaghan and Chelsea Adams’ wedding plans collide with one tiny little obstacle. David is already married . . . and didn’t know it! Now, with less than a week before his wedding day, David rushes off to get his wife to sign divorce papers. When she ends up murdered, it is up to David’s best man, Mac Faraday, and Gnarly, K9-in-waiting, to sort through the clue to get David to the church on time!

Lightning round:
Cake or frosting? Frosting!
Laptop or desktop? Laptop, because I’ll write anywhere. Desktops are just too awkward to carry in a case with a shoulder strap.
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Bill Murray. Ghostbusters is one of my favorite movies.
Emailing or texting? Emails. I tend to send long wordy messages (the writer in me) and the keys for texting are just too tiny.
Indoors or outdoors? Indoors with central air conditioning. I have seasonal allergies with every change of season.
Tea: sweet or unsweet? Sweet, of course!
Plane, train, or automobile? Automobile — with me driving. My husband and son claim I’m a backseat driver.


Joshua Thornton Mysteries:

A Small Case of Murder

A Reunion to Die For

Fans of the Lovers in Crime Mysteries may wish to read these two books which feature Joshua Thornton years before meeting Detective Cameron Gates. Also in these mysteries, readers will meet Joshua Thornton's five children before they have flown the nest.

Mac Faraday Mysteries:

It's Murder, My Son

Old Loves Die Hard

Shades of Murder
(introduces the Lovers in Crime: Joshua Thornton & Cameron Gates)

Blast from the Past

The Murders at Astaire Castle
The Lady Who Cried Murder
(The Lovers in Crime make a guest appearance in this Mac Faraday Mystery)

Twelve to Murder

A Wedding and a Killing 

Three Days to Forever 

Open Season for Murder
Cancelled Vows
(Coming January 2016)

Lovers in Crime Mysteries
Dead on Ice

Real Murder

The Thorny Rose Mysteries:
Kill and Run


Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime Mysteries. Her upcoming new series, The Thorny Rose Mysteries was released September 4, 2015.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learnt in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Connect with Lauren:
Website  |  Blog  | Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Sunday, September 27, 2015



The adventures of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack continue in A Stitch to Die For, the 5th book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series by USA Today bestselling author Lois Winston.

Ever since her husband died and left her in debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan, magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack has stumbled across one dead body after another — but always in work-related settings. When a killer targets the elderly nasty neighbor who lives across the street from her, murder strikes too close to home. Couple that with a series of unsettling events days before Halloween, and Anastasia begins to wonder if someone is sending her a deadly message.


Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun
Death by Killer Mop Doll
Revenge of the Crafty Corpse
Decoupage Can Be Deadly
Crewel Intentions
Mosaic Mayhem
Patchwork Peril
Definitely Dead
Talk Gertie to Me
Elementary, My Dear Gertie
Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception
Hooking Mr. Right
Four Uncles and a Wedding
Finding Hope
Lost in Manhattan
Someone to Watch Over Me
Once Upon a Romance
The Magic Paintbrush
Top Ten Reasons Your Novel is Rejected
Bake, Love, Write
House Unauthorized
Romance Super Bundle
Romance Super Bundle II: Second Chances
Romance Super Bundle III: Always & Forever
Love Valentine Style
Finding Mr. Right


Lois, what would your main character say about you?

Without a doubt she’d complain vehemently about me. After all, I gave her debt out the yin-yang and saddled her with the communist mother-in-law from hell. And if that weren’t bad enough, I keep having her stumble over dead bodies.

How long is your to-be-read list?

You know the saying, “so many books, too little time?” Let’s just say I’d need several clones to stand any chance of ever making a dent in that list.

How do you feel about Facebook?

I have a real problem with Facebook and have vowed to be the last person on the planet not on it. Many people have told me I’m crazy, but I see too many downsides to FB — the arbitrary way the site plays around with your privacy settings (notifying you after the fact,) the perverts and child molesters who troll for victims on it, the bullying that occurs (some of which has led to children committing suicide), and the ease of hacking into it.

Do I sell fewer books because I’m not on FB? Maybe, but there are other ways to interact with readers. I’m always happy to chat with readers via email. I answer every piece of fan mail I receive. I also send out a newsletter several times a year and offer special contests and freebies to my subscribers. Want to subscribe? Click here.

For what would you like to be remembered?
For being a wonderful parent, an awesome grandparent (didn’t think I was that old, did you?) and a true friend.

What five things would you never want to live without?
My husband, my cell phone, my computer, wi-fi, and coffee.

Who would you want to narrate a film about your life?
James Earl Jones. That deep baritone would lend such gravitas to my story.

3D movies are . . . incredibly frustrating. The special effects are awesome, but I become so focused on them that I’m pulled from what’s going on in the story. When I go to a 3-D movie, I need to go back and watch it again in 2-D to see what I’ve missed.

If you had a swear jar, would it be full?
I’m a Jersey girl. What do you think?

Do you spend more on clothes or food?
Definitely food at this point. I’m not buying any new clothes until I get rid of the 15-pound muffin top that suddenly appeared one day and refuses to leave no matter how much I exercise or how little I eat.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
I backpacked across Europe.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
I put the Mississippi River on the wrong side of Iowa. No one caught the error in the book before publication — not my three critique partners, not my agent, not my editor, not the copy editor. A week after the book came out a reader from Iowa emailed me about it.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
I’d like to go back and major in something other than art in college. No one ever told us back then how hard it would be to support ourselves as artists or that few ever do. If I knew then what I know now, I would have chosen a more practical major.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
One that would have to go into the swear jar, so I’d better keep it to myself.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
Supergirl. I’d love to have all those superpowers, especially the flying part.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? 
I was told I had no talent and I’d never get published. Success is definitely the best revenge.

Who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone in the world?
Neil deGrasse Tyson. The man is not only a genius, he’s incredibly funny, and he explains the universe in a way that’s easy to understand, even for us art majors.

How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
Nowhere near enough. I have this habit of writing scenes in my mind and can’t get my brain to shut down. Add to that my husband’s snoring, and if I’m lucky, I get four or five hours a night.

What is your favorite movie?
Shakespeare in Love

Great movie. How about a favorite book that was turned into a movie? Did the movie stink?

Reading the Stephanie Plum books is my guilty pleasure. I love books that make me laugh, and Janet Evanovich never fails to do that for me. I was really looking forward to the movie version of One for the Money. What a disappointment! Terrible casting. Awful script. What could have been a fabulous franchise will probably never see another movie made from the series.

Do you sweat the small stuff?

I try not to. I don’t always succeed.

If you had to choose a cliche about life, what would it be?

Stuff happens; deal with it.

How long is your to-do list?

Long enough that it has it’s own to-do list.

I hear you. What are you working on now?
I have a second amateur sleuth series, The Empty Nest Mystery series. Definitely Dead was the first book in the series. I’m about to begin writing the next one — as soon as I can come up with a plot. Guess I won’t be getting much sleep for a while . . .

Lightning round:
Cake or frosting? Cake
Laptop or desktop? Laptop
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Bill Murray
Emailing or texting? Emailing
Indoors or outdoors? Indoors
Tea: sweet or unsweet? Unsweet
Plane, train, or automobile? Plane but only if I can go first-class (which I’ll probably never be able to afford!) Otherwise, train.


USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog. Follow everyone on Tsu, on Pinterest, and on Twitter.

Connect with Lois:
Website  |  
Blog  | 
 Twitter  |  

Friday, September 25, 2015



The Other Side has hired Driscoll Investigations. The owner of Stone’s Throw Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast insists that a tarot reading told her to hire Giulia to evict the family ghost. Since the ghost is cutting gas lines and flooding cellars, Giulia and her husband Frank head to the B&B to discover the real perpetrator.

The client also has a family legend: A highwayman who stole a pile of gold. Giulia has a pile of suspects, including a psychic the client hired to conduct weekly séances. So much for romance with Frank at this getaway.

Instead, Giulia’s juggling arson, creepy clown dolls, and the psychic going all Exorcist on her. Then the ghost tries to push the client off the lighthouse and throw Giulia down three flights of stairs. It should’ve known better than to mess with an ex-nun. Giulia has connections and she’s about to use them.


Alice, what books do you currently have published?

I have 5 mysteries out there, all in the Giulia Driscoll series. Force of Habit, Back in the Habit, Veiled Threat, Nun too Soon, and Second to Nun. I also have my first horror novel out as of this past August: The Redeemers. It is not for the faint of heart! Giulia herself would think twice before reading it. Sidney, Giulia’s perky assistant, wouldn’t let it near her house. Muahahahaha.

How long is your to-be-read list?
Hip-deep. It’s been deeper, but I’ve learned to snatch reading time when it presents itself. It’s all over the map, too: horror, non-fiction, mystery, lots of manga.

You have a day job . . . how do you find time to write?
I’ve learned to make time, even in short sprints. When my kids were younger, I spent a lot of time at soccer and band practices. I would bring my WIP with me and write or edit while I waited. That practice works while dinner is cooking and while the laundry is drying too.

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?

It would have to be The CW, to see how Supernatural ends. Dear God, I hope they finally end it this season. It should’ve ended at Season 5, but noooo . . .  *cough* *ahem* Sorry. Rant truncated before my head explodes.

YouTube is…
The enabler for my Asian horror addiction. Now that FearNet is gone *sob* I get all my Asian horror from YouTube.

What five things would you never want to live without?
PG Tips tea, Gaelic Storm, the complete works of Dickens, Denver and the Mile High Orchestra, and my huge collection of MST3K DVDs.

Who would you want to narrate a film about your life?
Idris Elba. Oh, that voice.

3D movies are . . .
Headache-inducing. I can watch ones that are only partly 3D: Robot Monster (1953) and The Mask (1961). Classic bad horror.

At least you didn’t ask about shakycam movies. That rant cannot be contained.

If you had a swear jar, would it be full?
Hah! Overflowing.

What's your favorite treat for movie night?
Gummies. Dots or Sunkist Fruit Gems. Nom.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
Left the convent.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?

Entered the convent.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
You might think “Enter the convent,” but actually, no. The convent taught me two essential skills: How to speak in front of a crowd and how to lead. When we got the habit and had 6 weeks of Methods classes under our veils, we got thrown into a classroom with “You’re a leader now; go lead.” So I became a leader. Teaching Middle School gave me the fortitude to speak in front of any size crowd. Both are quite useful skills.

Also, frankly, if horrible things happen to you, they make great fiction fodder.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
Hmm. My fiction choices are not generally nice to the characters. I guess it would be Genjyo Sanzo from Kazuya Minekura’s Saiyuki manga series. He has a boatload of issues, but he is seriously cool and kickass.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
Oh, this was epic. I used to belong to an online critique group whose focus was Christian fiction. I wrote an early draft of my horror novel while in that group. We put our first 3 chapters on the loop for everyone to critique.

I got an 8-1/2 by 11 single-spaced diatribe from one member. It spewed hate at me from the screen. Parts were in red and underlined. He said my plot was bad, my MC was wrong, my book was evil. He told me that the book would “harm new Christians.” Apparently in his world new Christians can’t handle fiction and no longer possess analytical skills. Who knew?

He ended by saying he prayed I would never get published and signed it “With love from your brother in Christ.”

I blew him into the group moderator, who blocked him from my crits. Only then did I learn he was a strict evangelical with issues about women.

Getting published is the best revenge.

Who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone in the world?
Jamie Oliver, to cook. Then everyone living and dead who’s ever played Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. What a discussion about writing and acting and interpretation that would be.

What is your favorite movie?

I can’t pick just one. How about one each from a few genres:
Horror: Event Horizon
Comedy: Young Frankenstein
Historical: The Prisoner of Zenda—the Ronald Colman version, of course. *sigh*
Mystery: Sleuth, the original with Olivier and Caine
Romance: The 5-hour A&E version of Pride and Prejudice or the 5-hour A&E version of Jane Eyre. *sigh* again for Timothy Dalton
Fantasy: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Do you have a favorite book?

Again, no way can I pick just one.
Horror: Everything by HP Lovecraft
Fantasy: The Riddle-Master of Hed trilogy by Patricia McKillip
Mystery: Nothing Venture by Patricia Wentworth. This book is what inspired the kind of mysteries I like to write.
Historical: Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend
Manga: Saiyuki

How about a favorite book that was turned into a movie? Did the movie stink?

Rant! It’s not my favorite book, but the Astaire/Gardner/Peck movie of Nevil Shute’s On the Beach. It was a trainwreck. A trainwreck of a trainwreck. Horribly miscast. Changes to essential plot elements. They messed up the eeriness of the big plot point (the Coke bottle in Seattle). They messed up just about everything. Gah!

Do you sweat the small stuff?
Nope. Life is too short. Unless you’re talking about the Oxford comma.

Agreed! How long is your to-do list?

Hahahahaha! *weeps*

What are you working on now?
I’m finishing up the next Giulia Driscoll mystery, Nun but the Brave, out July 2016.

Lightning round:
Cake or frosting?  Cake!
Laptop or desktop?  Laptop (portability)
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray?  Ugh; neither. I pick Robin Williams.
Emailing or texting? Email. Easier to type.
Indoors or outdoors? Out. Winter lasts much too long up here.
Tea: sweet or unsweet? Strong and straight, period.
Plane, train, or automobile? Car. Used to be plane before flying became such a giant pain in the kiester.


Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she’s not creating trouble for Giulia Driscoll, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).

Connect with Alice:
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