Tuesday, December 18, 2018

FEATURED AUTHOR: JEFF BOND




ABOUT THE BOOK


Bob Fiske — the 74-year-old dinosaur who’s taught Honors English and coached varsity football for five decades — is missing.

To his Winners, class favorites Fiske designated over the years for their potential to “Live Big,” it’s heartbreaking. Fiske did more than inspire with soaring oratory; he supported their ambitions into adulthood. Four of his brightest former stars reunite to find him, putting high-octane careers on hold, slipping police barricades, racing into the wilds of Northern Michigan for clues about the fate of their legendary mentor.

Others don’t see a legend. They see an elitist whose time has passed.

When a current student — female — disappears just hours into the Winners’ search amid rumors of inappropriate meetings, the Great Man’s reputation is a shambles.

Feints, betrayal, explosive secrets from their own pasts: as facts emerge, each Winner must decide how far they’ll go for Fiske. Can the truth redeem him? Or has this cult of hyper-achievement spawned a thing so vile none of their lives will survive intact?

"An exhilarating and emotionally astute mystery." ~ Kirkus


Book Details:

Title: The Winner Maker

Author: Jeff Bond


Genre: Upmarket mystery, thriller


Publisher: Indie (December 1st 2018)


Print length: 332 pages

On tour with: Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours





INTERVIEW WITH JEFF BOND


Q: Jeff, where’s home for you?
A:
I live in Midland, Michigan, a couple hours north of Detroit and the University of Michigan.

Q: Where did you grow up?
A:
I grew up in Overland Park, a southern suburb of Kansas City.

 Having lived in larger cities most of my life – Kansas City, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Chicago – I had a few concerns when my wife told me she was considering a job in the middle of Michigan. Midland has been great, though. Driving ten minutes to a minor league ballgame, fantastic public arts and gardens, plenty of activities for our elementary-age daughters. I love visiting the big cities, but I think raising kids in those environments would be a lot tougher sled than here.

Q:What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?
A:
That you need people reading your work. I spent many years as the proverbial lone wolf, writing on the side, not exposing my fiction beyond friends and family. That period did end up being worthwhile, but to really bring your stories to the highest level, you need to get the opinion of other serious writers – and better yet, professional editors.

Q: What is your most embarrassing moment?
A:
Standing in front of hundreds of people at a Dock Dogs competition, trying to coax my lazy 125-pound Newfoundland to jump into a pool after a squeak toy. She never did. My kids made me do it.


Q: Public humiliation. That's the worst. If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?
A:
After the people and pets, of course, I’d say my laptop. Even though my manuscripts are all backed up to the cloud by several different companies (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, others I don’t know about?), I never quite trust it.

Q: What brings you sheer delight?
A:
Seeing my kids laugh. Writing, at least a few times every day.

Q: Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
A:
While I certainly steal certain traits or mannerisms, I don’t have any characters – at least in The Winner Maker – that’re very close to real people. It can be tempting to do with minor characters. For example, if you want to quickly characterize a setting and know a person who typifies that place, you feel like just rolling them out with a different name. I try not to.
With major characters, in my experience, it can’t really work. You’re always going to something different to support your plot or maximize conflict – even if it’s just a hobby or expertise.

Q: Are you like any of your characters?
A:
Yes. The Winner Maker centers around four high-achievers and the teacher who encouraged them. I went to Yale for undergraduate, so I know that milieu – ambition and its associated personal cost – very well.

Q: Who are your favorite authors?

A:
Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Jonathan Franzen, Nick Hornby, Harlan Coben.

Q: What book are you currently reading and in what format?
A: Beartown by Fredrik Backman (audiobook). And to my kids, Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary (paperback).

Q: What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
A:
Too many characters. I feel like a lot of stories would be stronger if they collapsed some secondary characters.


Q: Do you have a routine for writing?
A:
I keep it pretty simple. Coffee and laptop. A café, library, or botanical gardens in good weather. I used to write in the early morning hours before going to a regular nine-to-five job, which conditioned me to write anywhere and make use of small windows of time.

Q: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
A:
Kirkus Review had a lot of praise for The Winner Maker, which I appreciated: “An exhilarating and emotionally astute mystery … Bond collapses two distinct literary genres into one seamless novelistic whole: a mystery and an emotional drama ... Fiske is deliciously enigmatic ... Bond is so ingeniously inventive--he consistently moves the story in wholly unpredictable directions ... The novel's central mystery is thrilling, but the true spine of the tale is the fragile connections between the past Winners, who must not only investigate Fiske's disappearance, but also the authenticity of their lives and friendships.”

Q: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
A:
There’s a pretty gross scene late in The Winner Maker, which I have readers ask me about sometime. I won’t spoil it, other than to say all five senses are heartily invoked.

Q: Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
A:
I write a lot at the Grace A. Dow Library, here in Midland. Like most libraries, it’s full of displays and staff selections that let you know you’re in a place where people are passionate about books and storytelling. They also have great quiet, picturesque spaces to sit. Occasionally I’ll look out over my laptop and see wild turkeys.

Q: What would your dream office look like?
A:
They actually just built it here in Midland: it’s a series of elevated walkways through a public forest. They call it a “canopy walk.” You can literally sit among the trees and write—and they’ve even got a nice café to go with it.
Now if I can just find some gloves thin enough to type with during the winter…

Q: What are you working on now?
A:
My follow-up is called Blackquest 40. It’s more of a go-go thriller than Winner, a fresh take on the Die Hard formula about San Francisco tech workers whose office is locked down for a forty-hour corporate training exercise—or so they’re told as the story begins. I’m just finishing final edits and plan a mid-May release.




READ AN EXCERPT FROM THE WINNER MAKER

Bob Fiske stalked out onto a glass-bottomed observation box of the Sears Tower, appearing to join the sky. His hair, wild and white, whorled with the passing clouds. His strides were at once rickety—owing to seventy-four-year-old joints—and resolute, each footfall seeming to make gravity, to seize its own plane of air.
He planted the portable lectern before his students with a leathered fist. “Poetry is the evidence of life. If your life is burning brightly, poetry is just the ash.”
The entire honors English class, and more than one passing tourist, considered this in reverential silence. The students’ faces glowed with a mishmash of excitements. They were out of school on a field trip! They had to recite a poem by heart; would they remember?
Being here with Fiske—Coach Fiske, Fiske the Great, Fiske the Feared—made them feel the way all high-school seniors should at least once during this final, never-to-be-forgotten year: special. Sure that every important thing in life was happening right here, right now, to them uniquely.
Marna Jacobs (left side, midway back) felt all this too, but more pressing was the weight of dual backpacks on her shoulders. What had Jesse put in this thing, lead? She shifted to resettle the load more comfortably over her five-one frame.
A voice behind her said, “Ooh, Marna, carrying your boyfriend’s bag for him? How old-fashioned. Part of the new vintage motif?”
It was Caitlyn of the perfect cheekbones and 4.5 GPA, a surefire Winner when Fiske’s list came out.
“Jesse’s not my boyfriend.” Marna crossed her ankles, suddenly less psyched about her thrift-store oxfords.
“Didn’t you two go to homecoming together?”
“We, um, broke up.”
“And you’ve accepted the demotion to pack mule?” Caitlyn said with a grin of ice.
Marna and Jesse were outsiders here, AP English being their only honors class. While the others elbowed for brownie points, Marna tried to fly under the radar—a strategy that had worked until last month when Mr. Fiske had praised her Brave New World essay as “refreshing, primitively honest.” Now Caitlyn ridiculed her at every turn.
Still, the question was legit. Marna had been standing around waiting to board one of the tower’s shockingly fast elevators when Jesse nudged her, asking if she’d leave his backpack on the glass bottom for him. Without waiting for an answer, he’d heaved the pack onto her shoulder. When she’d complained it was heavy, he had said all she had to do was leave it on the glass—then he slipped away as every ligament in Marna’s neck and upper back croaked under the burden.
“We’re friends,” Marna said now. “Friends do each other favors.”
Caitlyn sneered around the observation deck. The first student was approaching the podium, stealing a last peek at her crinkled notes. “What’s inside, a bomb? You two always were quiet. Maybe too quiet.”
Marna squirmed underneath the pack. It couldn’t be a bomb. Right? Everyone had gone through security. Jesse’s pack had been X-rayed.
She thought. Was pretty sure.
“Marna brought a bomb?” Todd Bruckmueller said, overhearing.
Caitlyn opened her shoulders to a larger audience. “Maybe.”
“This is really mean, you guys, I—”
“Let’s see!”
Todd, right tackle for the football team, reached for the pack. Marna hunched like a threatened armadillo but couldn’t keep Todd from dislodging one arm. They struggled. Marna dug an elbow into the oaf’s ribs. He lost his grip, and the pack crashed to the glass floor.
Driven less by loyalty to Jesse than rage, Marna grabbed one strap. Todd grabbed the other. Security personnel moved dimly in the periphery.
“Enough.”
The word boomed forth, sucking all air from the fight. Marna first thought Todd had said it—so loud, his meat-pie face right here—before spotting the pair of Illinois State 6A Championship rings against his neck. The rings belonged to Fiske. The septuagenarian had his 230-pound lineman in a half nelson.
“Poor form, Mr. Bruckmueller.” Fiske unhanded Todd, then turned to Marna with a wink. “I cordially invite you to Wildkit Stadium this afternoon, four o’clock sharp, to witness your tormentor ascending and descending the east stairs in rapid succession. Two hundred flights or heatstroke, whichever comes first.”
Before Marna could respond—was she supposed to respond? could Fiske get busted for laying hands on a student like that?—a metallic clunk sounded nearby. Jesse’s pack began sliding in the direction of the noise.
“Hey, what—what’s happening?” Todd said, scurrying back.
Marna instinctively raised her hands. Three guards were beelining her way, fingers pressed to earpieces. Students and tourists alike scattered. The backpack moved seven inches across the glass floor before locking into place with a small, intense shimmy.
Directly below, on the underside of the glass and suspended 103 stories above Wacker Drive, a hook protruded from a squat black cylinder.
A magnet.
That’s why the backpack was so heavy. There’s a gigantic magnet inside.
The hook was closed, and now a hand—a hand?—emerged from the void to clip what looked like a fat red ribbon onto it. The backpack’s fabric strained about the glass in a circle, the magnet inside perfectly mirroring the magnet below.
Marna squinted to make sure this wasn’t allergies messing with her eyes. Also, the day was overcast; up here, they were literally in the clouds.
“Oh. My. God.”
Jesse.
Suspended upside down, staring at her with that wobbly grin. The diamond-check soles of his shoes visible through the glass, he held on by a short length of the ribbon—which Marna saw was a bungee cord. The rest of the cord dangled far below, lilting now back against the skyscraper, now out over the Chicago River, twisting and kinking, rippling, the greatest part shrouded in fog.
Marna staggered into a row with the security guards. How did he get up there? Are those magnets seriously gonna hold? Will the guards shoot him, or Tase him? Can you Tase through glass?
The guards barked into walkie-talkies. When one stepped toward the pack, Jesse felt for something behind his waist and gave the bungee two sharp tugs.
“No!” Marna screamed. “You stupid jerk, no! Whatever you’re thinking!”
But she recognized the sequence he was rushing through: the harness buckling, the strap cinching, his rawboned fingers jittery but unhesitating. Technical rock climbing was Jesse’s thing—he actually taught yuppies at a downtown bouldering gym. He could do it in his sleep.
Marna flattened her whole body to the glass floor, fingers splayed, nose squished. “Why? What is the point, J? Stop!”
Into the misty chasm, her words were weak and scrabbling and basically nothing.
Jesse glanced past her. As his wild pupils settled on Fiske, his face took on a dreamy, near-euphoric blush.
The venerable teacher stood with arms folded. Impassive. Like Marna, Jesse had been encouraged by Fiske—had won kudos for his “exuberant prose style,” even been assigned an extracurricular joint project with one of Fiske’s pet students. In recent weeks, Jesse had even talked about making Winner.
“Respect your life!” Fiske called down. “Cherish it. Be the keeper of its sanctity.”
He knelt beside Marna and, placing both hands on the glass, glared down. She had a fleeting notion that the Great Man could grab Jesse, that those gnarled fingers were capable of parting glass—or transmuting through, or willing matter around, something—and rescuing him.
The blush heightened in Jesse’s face. His eyes pulsed. The sinews of his neck became taut and grotesque.
He plunged. Leading with his forehead, Adam’s apple slicing the clouds. He was a falling, twisting, shrinking blur.
Smaller, smaller…very small.
Marna had almost lost the dot when an enormous white tarp exploded upward through the fog. A block-print message snapped into view across its expanse:
LIVE BIG.

***
Excerpt from The Winner Maker by Jeff Bond.  Copyright © 2018 by Jeff Bond. Reproduced with permission from Jeff Bond. All rights reserved.











ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Jeff Bond is a Kansas native and graduate of Yale University. He lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters, and belongs to the International Thriller Writers association.

Connect with Jeff:
Website  |   Facebook  |  Twitter Goodreads

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  















Sunday, December 16, 2018

FEATURED: JODI RATH'S JOLIE TUCKER




ABOUT THE BOOK


Introducing Jolie Tucker, an introverted yet passionate restaurant co-owner of Cast Iron Creations, who, at her best friend Ava’s request, steps out of her comfort zone which leads her into the shade of a killer in the small, cozy village of Leavensport, Ohio. The victim is the villages beloved Ellie Siler who runs the village sweet spot, Chocolate Capers. Jolie finds her grandma Opal is a prime suspect and goes on a search for answers only to find out that her families secret recipes may not belong to the Tucker family at all. Jolie’s job, family, and livelihood are all on the line. The answers are assuredly lethal.



Book Details:

Title: Pineapple Upside Down MurderAuthor: Jodi Rath

Genre: Culinary Cozy 

Series: The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series, book 1

Published: November 23, 2018









CHARACTER GUEST POST WITH JOLIE TUCKER


Welcome to Leavensport, Ohio where Death takes a Delicious turn!


I always say, “How is it my family can so easily push my buttons? Oh, yeah, it’s because they installed them!” Even though my family and my best friend, Ava, can drive me a bit batty at times, I love them dearly. I may be able to criticize them from time to time, but if anyone else dares to say the slightest negative thing . . . WATCH OUT! I’m Jolie Tucker, and take a look below at exactly what I’m talking about:

One year into co-owning my dream restaurant, Cast Iron Creations, with my best friend Ava, finds me smack in the face of a murder investigation. Trust me; the last thing I want to do is be investigating. I’m shy and introverted and feel most comfortable in the kitchen in the back of our eatery. Ava, on the other hand, is bold in appearance and personality and runs the front of the shop. When we find Leavensport’s beloved Ellie Siler, who is also my grandma’s best friend, dead in the alley in the back of our eatery we have no choice to be involved. Then, my grandma becomes a prime suspect as the police think she killed Ellie because our family’s secret recipes were never ours to begin with. My family, reputation, and business are all at stake.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her eight cats. Sign up for the newsletter.

Connect with Jodi:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter Goodreads  |  Pinterest

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Bookbub  |  Draft2Digital 






Friday, December 14, 2018

FEATURED AUTHOR: ALISON LITTMAN




ABOUT THE BOOK


After years of suffering under the communist regime in Cold War Hungary, Eszter Turján—fanatical underground journalist—would sacrifice anything, and anyone, to see the government fall. When she manipulates news broadcasts on Radio Free Europe, she ignites a vicious revolution, commits a calamitous murder, and is dragged away screaming to a secret underground prison.

Her daughter Dora, then a teenager, cowers in her bedroom as the secret police arrest her mother. Haunted and hurt, Dora vows to work against everything Eszter believes in. But, it’s not that simple.

After nine years, Dora meets a strapping young fan of Radio Free Europe and is unwittingly drawn back into Eszter’s circle. She finds her mother, driven mad by years of torture, is headed for death.

On the brink of losing Eszter again, Dora must decide if she should risk her life to save the mother who discarded her—or leave it to fate.


Book Details:


Title: Radio Underground

Author: Alison Littman

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Last Syllable Books (November 28, 2018)

Print length: 354 pages

On tour with: Pump Up Your Book












INTERVIEW WITH ALISON LITTMAN


Alison, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
The title refers to the underground radio network that persisted in Cold War Hungary and throughout Eastern Europe until the fall of the Iron Curtain. One radio station in particular – Radio Free Europe – was created by the U.S. to enact psychological warfare on communist nations. It is this radio station in particular that is the catalyst for the novel’s drama.

Where’s home for you?
San Francisco.

Where did you grow up?
San Diego.

What’s your favorite memory?
Probably a cool, coastal-mountain summer afternoon at the camp I went to growing up . . . lounging on the wooden picnic tables with my cabin mates who, to this day, are still my best friends.


If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
Glasses. I have nine pairs as it is—they’re like my shoes!

What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
A membership to a gym. I’ve never been able to work out indoors, and it took me 100,000 phone calls to cancel the thing.

Who would you pick to write your biography?
David Sedaris.

What do you love about where you live?
Nature! On any given day, I can bike up the cliffs overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge or run through the redwood forests just up the street from me.

Have you been in any natural disasters?
Yes. The Northridge Earthquake in the ‘90s. We lived about 20 miles from the epicenter.


What is the most daring thing you've done?
Once I snuck backstage when the RENT cast was rehearsing in the Nearlander Theater on Broadway. I walked into the theater and just on back there. I ended up meeting the actor playing Mark, and when we saw the show later that night, he invited us back again to meet the rest of the cast.

Gutsy! What makes you bored?
Online dating.


What is your most embarrassing moment?
I’ll never forget once I pantsed myself in front of my basketball team and coaches when I was trying to take off my sweatpants.

Ouch. If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
Right here in San Francisco.

What’s your favorite line from a book?
“So she had to satisfy herself with the idea of love–loving the loving of things whose existence she didn't care at all about. Love itself became the object of her love. She loved herself in love, she loved loving love, as love loves loving, and was able, in that way, to reconcile herself with a world that fell so short of what she would have hoped for. It was not the world that was the great and saving lie, but her willingness to make it beautiful and fair, to live a once-removed life, in a world once-removed from the one in which everyone else seemed to exist.” – Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated

How did you create the plot for Radio Underground?
I found these letters these Hungarian teenagers wrote to a rock ‘n’ roll DJ in the ‘60s. I sat down at my computer one day and started writing as if I were them—talking about listening to the music in secret (rock ‘n’ roll was banned in Hungary), about what career I would pursue if I could do anything and the person I was in love with—and from there, Radio Underground was born.

Are you like any of your characters?
I think aspects of me are in a lot of the characters. Like Eszter, I am passionate to the point of delusion at times. Similar to Dora, I like structure and find comfort in stability. And like Mike, I can be silly.

Who are your favorite authors?
Jonathan Safran Foer, Michael Chabon, Julie Orringer, Kristin Hannah, Anthony Doerr, Isabel Allende, Eimer McBride, J.K. Rowling
.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
A Tale for the Time Being – and I’m listening to it!

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
Once I had to write a pamphlet about the pipes being used to tunnel water from the Hetch Hetchy to San Francisco. It required me to understand a ton of engineering terms and technical jargon that I never heard of in my life – I would have rather written Crime and Punishment than that brochure.

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

What would your dream office look like?
Once I went into a professor’s office and he had books lining his walls. I looked around and said, “I want this one day.” He responded, “Be careful what you wish for.” I’m still waiting for the day when I can have a room of my own to line with books. I’d color coordinate them on the shelves and try to put autumn tones and accents throughout.





ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Alison Littman lives in San Francisco where she is a writer by day and stand up comedian by night. A former journalist in New Mexico, she covered politics and education while also contributing articles on John F. Kennedy and The Beatles to various specialty magazines. Her feature stories focus on listening to rock 'n' roll behind the Iron Curtain and Cold War politics. Radio Underground is her first novel.





Connect with Alison:

Website
  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

FEATURED AUTHOR: LESLEY A. DIEHL





ABOUT THE BOOK


EMILY RHODES DOES IT AGAIN!

This time she nosedives into a mud puddle at a Seminole War battle reenactment and finds she’s sharing the muck with a dead body. As usual the hunky detective she loves to aggravate, Stanton Lewis, cautions her against getting involved in the case, and as usual she ignores him. Emily’s sleuthing pays off, revealing disturbing information about the victim’s past. Is it the reason behind his murder? With the help of her family and friends, Emily sets out to uncover secrets kept too long and puts herself and the people she loves in the killer’s path. Too late she realizes Detective Lewis was right. Her snoopiness proves to be a deadly idea.

Bonus feature inside: Emily’s neighbor shares her recipes. Make them for your favorite sleuth!



Book Details:


Title: Scream Muddy Murder

Author: Lesley A. Diehl

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Creekside Publishing

Print length: 352 pages











LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT INTERVIEW WITH LESLEY A. DIEHL


A few of your favorite things: Chocolate, wine (preferably white), my cottage on a trout stream, my husband, warm weather, writing, my cats, and having afternoon tea with my neighbors.
Things you need to throw out: Many of my clothes, most of my shoes, “stuff” in the house
.

Things you need in order to write: Organized closets, a sense of humor.
Things that hamper your writing: Too much noise, my cat hogging the keyboard
.

Things you love about writing: When the plot comes together, writing funny scenes, writing short stories, using my relatives as characters in my work.
Things you hate about writing: Lying awake at night and realizing I have a huge plot issue which needs to be resolved. The worry keeps me awake for hours while I ruminate about how it can be fixed. You’d think I’d get up and work on it, but, no, I just lie there and worry. The fact that I am the world’s worst typist and must redo everything—why did I never take that typing class in high school?

Easiest thing about being a writer: The ideas seem to be never ending. I should have begun doing this much earlier in my life!

Hardest thing about being a writer: Spending so much time inside when I’d prefer to be out by the stream or walking in the woods.


Things you love about where you live: I divide my time between Upstate New York and rural Florida. I love the peacefulness of both places because there is so little traffic. New York is beautiful in the summer and early fall, but brutal in the winter. Florida is warm.
Things that make you want to move: In New York we must navigate a huge hill to get out of our village to restaurants and to shopping, but it’s only a real problem in bad weather. In Florida, we are isolated from restaurants, shopping and entertainment. We love the coast but must travel 40 miles to get there. However, we never get flooded where we live in Florida, but we have had floods of our creek in New York.

Things you never want to run out of: Chocolate, wine, PBS, and Netflix.
Things you wish you’d never bought: Most of my shoes and most of my clothes. I don’t need all this stuff!

Words that describe you: Dedicated to my writing, love my husband and my cats, not too dumb, funny.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Impatient, controlling.

Favorite foods: Lobster, cod, mahi mahi, potatoes, anything chocolate, raspberries, peaches, crusty bread, chicken piccata, a good Italian dressing.
Things that make you want to throw up: Egg yolks, when somebody else has thrown up, Karo syrup, liver. 

Favorite music: Anything by the Eagles.
Music that make your ears bleed: Some opera. 



Favorite beverage: Wine or tea.
Something that gives you a pickle face: Liver.

Favorite smell: Lilacs or lily of the valley.
Something that makes you hold your nose: Burning rubber.

Something you’re really good at: Writing humor (I hope).
Something you’re really bad at: Writing romantic scenes.


Something you wish you could do: Write romantic scenes.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: Crochet—a waste of time, and I’m bad at it.

Something you like to do: Crosswords.

Something you wish you’d never done: Worked with some of the idiots I worked with.

People you consider as heroes:
People who rescue children and animals.

People with a big L on their foreheads: People who are full of themselves, self-centered, and can only talk about how great they are or how much money they have.



Last best thing you ate: Chicken piccata last night.

Last thing you regret eating: I can’t think of anything in the recent past. I only eat what I love!

Things you’d walk a mile for: My husband, my cats, a really good donut.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: Most of the programs on TV.

Things you always put in your books: Humorous dialogue and funny scenes.

Things you never put in your books: Sex.

Things to say to an author: I love your books; can I buy 100 copies of each of them to gift to my friends and family?
Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: That must be a vanity publisher because I’ve never heard of them.

Favorite places you’ve been: Africa, Tuscany, Disney (please don’t tell anyone), train across Canada.
Places you never want to go to again: High priced, but over-rated restaurants with lousy food and poor service; most large cities.

Favorite books: Mysteries of any kind.

Books you would ban: I don’t believe in banning books. If you don’t like them, don’t buy them or read them.

People you’d like to invite to dinner: Any of the courageous young women athletes on the Olympic gymnastics team who spoke up and took that horrible doctor down. They are role models for young women, and I’d like to tell them that.

People you’d cancel dinner on: That horrible doctor and everyone who protected him.

Favorite things to do: Cooking, writing, gardening, hiking, watching Sunday night PBS.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: Watching most contemporary sitcoms.

Things that make you happy: Watching pet videos on Facebook.

Things that drive you crazy: Watching television programs about people deciding which 1.2-million-dollar house to buy. Why do I tune in to that stuff?

Proudest moment: When I got my first book published.


Most embarrassing moment:
When my music teacher in junior high told me not to sing, but to “just mouth the words.” She almost cured me of ever wanting to sing again. I was mortified because she said it in front of the entire class.


Biggest lie you’ve ever told: Said in an English accent, at a disco way back when, “I’m from Great Britain.” The guy was so impressed, but my accent slipped as the night wore on.

A lie you wish you’d told: “I weigh 120 pounds.”


Best thing you’ve ever done: Retired early to follow my partner to New Mexico. It turned out well, however. We later married, and he’s been the biggest supporter of my writing.

Biggest mistake: Not taking that vacation to Greece.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: Went on a wildlife management safari to Kenya.
Something you chickened out from doing:
I discontinued my riding lessons after the horse threw me.

The last thing you did for the first time: Tried to watch a superheroes movie. I guess I’m not a superheroes fan.

Something you’ll never do again: Although we love our cottage on the trout stream, I now know better than to buy a house located on the outside of a bend in the river. The water eats at your property and you end up with many feet less of lawn.






ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in Upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work. She’s presently interviewing for a coyote to serve as her muse for her books and stories set in rural Florida.
She is the author of several mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories, most featuring her quirky sense of humor and a few characters drawn from her peculiar family.




Connect with Lesley:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon  | Barnes & Noble







Monday, December 10, 2018

FEATURED BOOK: TO FETCH A THIEF





ABOUT THE BOOK


To Fetch a Thief, the first Mutt Mysteries collection, features four novellas that have gone to the dogs. In this howlingly good read, canine companions help their owners solve crimes and right wrongs. These sleuths may be furry and low to the ground, but their keen senses are on high alert when it comes to sniffing out clues and digging up the truth. Make no bones about it, these pup heroes will steal your heart as they conquer ruff villains.





Book Details:


Title: To Fetch a Thief

Authors: Teresa Inge, Heather Weidner, Jayne Ormerod, and Rosemary Shomaker

Genre: Cozy mystery

Series: Mutt Mysteries

Publisher: Bay Breeze Publishing, LLC (November 8, 2018)

Print length: 263 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours






LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT WITH HEATHER WEIDNER

Things you need in order to write: Chocolate, my idea file, good music, and a caffeinated drink.
Things that hamper your writing: Telemarketers and other interruptions
.

Easiest thing about being a writer: I think the writing is the easiest part.

Hardest thing about being a writer: It’s more than just writing. It’s editing, proofreading, social media marketing, book marketing, and query letters. The list is long.


Things you love about where you live: I’ve lived in Virginia all my life. We’re outside of Richmond, the capital right now. I love that we’re just hours from the beach, mountains, and Washington, D. C.
Things that make you want to move: It was fairly rural when we moved here. Civilization has found us, and the traffic is getting worse.

Things you never want to run out of: Chocolate, cool pens, caffeinated drinks, and toilet paper.
Things you wish you’d never bought: Those shiny 90s pink bridesmaids’ dresses with the puffy sleeves and the giant bow on the back.


Favorite foods: Pizza and chocolate.
Things that make you want to throw up: Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and that shaved carrot/raisin/mayonnaise salad.

Things you always put in your books: I always have pop culture references somewhere in my stories and novels.

Things you never put in your books: There’s no graphic sex or violence in my stories.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Weidner, a member of SinC – Central Virginia and Guppies, is the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, Secret Lives and Private Eyes, and The Tulip Shirt Murders. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. Heather lives in Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers, Disney and Riley. She’s been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. Some of her life experience comes from being a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, IT manager, and cop’s kid. She blogs at Pens, Paws, and Claws. 


Connect with Heather:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Instagram 





LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT WITH JAYNE ORMEROD

Things you love about where you live: I live in a coastal community by the Chesapeake Bay. I love being able to take long walks on the beach, or sipping wine while watching the sailboat regattas. Both activities fuel my creative juices for writing.
Things that make you want to move: Land is at a premium, so houses are VERY close together. Sometimes I desire a little more elbow room. If I had more room, I would have more dogs. I would quite possibly become The Crazy Dog Lady. 



Things you never want to run out of: Diet Coke and Black Box Cabernet. 

Things you wish you’d never bought: A piano. We moved 19 times in conjunction with my husband’s military career. Pianos are not fun to move! Especially up a steep exposed-aggregate driveway on a dewy morning. It was a miracle it didn’t roll down the hill and crash on the road!


Favorite music: Music from the 1960s and 1970s when songs told a story and had pleasing harmonies.
Music that make your ears bleed: Rap. I can’t understand the words, and there doesn’t seem to be any melody.

Favorite smell: Gardenias and honeysuckle in the garden. Sea breezes. Baking bread.

Something that makes you hold your nose: Fish markets and dirty feet.

Something you wish you could do: I wish I could sing…on key!
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: Use Facebook. I resisted for a very very very long time. But now I find myself checking many times a day.

Things you always put in your books: There’s always a food reference, and often a mention of an adult-beverage. 

Things you never put in your books: Maiming or killing animals.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town then went on to a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her degree in accountancy, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor). She married a naval officer and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, have settled into a cozy cottage by the sea. Jayne is the author of the Blonds at the Beach Mysteries, The Blond Leading the Blond, and Blond Luck. She has contributed seven short mysteries to various anthologies to include joining with the other To Fetch a Thief authors in Virginia is for Mysteries, Volumes I and II, and 50 Shades of Cabernet.

Connect with Jayne:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter 


LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT WITH ROSEMARY SHOMAKER


A few of your favorite things: Trees, dogs, sunlight, books, and warm blankets.
Things you need to throw out: Loose papers I’ve saved for unimportant reasons; cans and boxes of food I’ll never prepare; clothes I’ll never wear; and more towels and sheets than I’ll ever use.

Words that describe you: Round, intense, intelligent, noncommittal, abrupt, unpredictable.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Round, intense, unexpressive.

Favorite music: Bluegrass and classic rock.
Music that makes your ears bleed: Rap and Hip-Hop.

Favorite beverage: Water – yes, water.
Something that gives you a pickle face: Tomato juice.

Something you wish you could do: Play the piano.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: I can’t think of anything.

Things you’d walk a mile for: Most anything – a mile is not very far – especially if I have my dog for company!
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: People who repeat themselves when they talk.

Things you always put in your books: Big words, and I use them inappropriately sometimes – like in a young person’s dialogue. I think this comes from reading a lot and loving the precision of words. Still, it is a liability because it puts off some readers – and it’s downright wrong to use complex words in dialogue.

Things you never put in your books: Witches.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rosemary Shomaker writes about the unexpected in everyday life. She’s the woman you don’t notice in the grocery store or at church but whom you do notice at estate sales and wandering vacant lots. In all these places she’s collecting story ideas. Rosemary writes women’s fiction, paranormal, and mystery short stories, and she’s taking her first steps toward longer fiction, so stay tuned. She’s an urban planner by education, a government policy analyst by trade, and a fiction writer at heart. Rosemary credits Sisters in Crime with developing her craft and applauds the organization’s mission of promoting the ongoing advancement, recognition, and professional development of women crime writers.


Connect with Rosemary:
Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Instagram


LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT WITH TERESA INGE

A few of your favorite things: Mysteries, dogs, wine, and car shows.
Things you need to throw out: Old home décor items, clothes, and some donated books.


Things you need in order to write: Laptop and a quiet space.
Things that hamper your writing: People talking and asking a lot of questions! 


Things you love about writing: Creating characters, locations, and the whodunnit.
Things you hate about writing: Editing.

Easiest thing about being a writer: Creating titles and characters. 

Hardest thing about being a writer: Getting my ideas on paper. 


Things you love about where you live: Country setting.
Things that make you want to move: My husband collects too many cars.


Things you never want to run out of: Sweet tea and wine.
Things you wish you’d never bought: Some clothes. 


Words that describe you: Hard worker, dedicated, family oriented, and animal lover.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Hard worker.

Favorite foods:
Salad, vegetables, and chocolate. 
Things that make you want to throw up: Bad tasting wine.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Teresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol, but she hotrods. She is president of Sister’s in Crime Mystery by the Sea Chapter and author of short mysteries in Virginia is for Mysteries and 50 Shades of Cabernet.

Connect with Teresa:
Website  |   Facebook  |  Twitter   


OTHER WAYS TO CONNECT WITH THE AUTHORS
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

BUY THE BOOK
Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  iTunes  |   Kobo 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

FEATURED AUTHOR: DEBRA H. GOLDSTEIN




ABOUT THE BOOK


For culinary challenged Sarah Blair, there’s only one thing scarier than cooking from scratch—murder!
 


Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty‑eight, Sarah Blair reluctantly swaps her luxury lifestyle for a cramped studio apartment and a law firm receptionist job in the tired hometown she never left. With nothing much to show for the last decade but her feisty Siamese cat, RahRah, and some clumsy domestic skills, she’s the polar opposite of her bubbly twin, Emily—an ambitious chef determined to take her culinary ambitions to the top at a local gourmet restaurant . . .



Sarah knew starting over would be messy. But things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by Emily’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and Emily wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!


Includes quick and easy recipes!


Book Details:


Title: One Taste Too Many

Author: Debra H. Goldstein

Genre: Cozy mystery

Series: A Sarah Blair Mystery, book 1

Publisher: Kensington (December 18, 2018)

Print length: 304 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours





LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT WITH DEBRA H. GOLDSTEIN


A few of your favorite things: Pizza and ice cream.
Things you need to throw out: The clothes that are too small on me.


Things you need in order to write: Show music.
Things that hamper your writing: Life’s obligations.


Things you love about writing: The joy of when I’m in the zone.
Things you hate about writing: When the words don’t flow.

Easiest thing about being a writer: Coming up with ideas.

Hardest thing about being a writer: Sticking to a schedule. It’s very easy for me to put off writing for days on end.


Things you love about where you live: I love that we rarely get snow and that the people are so gracious and kind.
Things that make you want to move: There really is nothing that would prompt me to move. Having lived in different places throughout the country, I feel a sense of peace and happiness in the South.

Things you never want to run out of: Dark chocolate and kisses from children and grandchildren.
Things you wish you’d never bought: The on the stove smoker (used once); my kitchen (infrequently used – may still have tags on some of the appliances).


Words that describe you: Judge, author, wife, step-mom, mother of twins, innovative, and loyal.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Pudgy.

Favorite foods: Dark chocolate, pizza, and ice cream.
Things that make you want to throw up: The smell of fish cooking and cottage cheese. 

Favorite music or song: I love show music.
Music that make your ears bleed: Heavy metal.

Favorite beverage: Coca-cola.

Something that gives you a pickle face: Lemonade.

Favorite smell: The powdery smell of a baby; the unexplainable smell of a print book.

Something that makes you hold your nose: Rank garbage–a bag that’s been sitting around for a day or two with fish or Chinese food.

Something you’re really good at: Reading fast.

Something you’re really bad at: Dancing.

Something you wish you could do: Be in more places at the same time.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: For me, everything is an experience. I could do without having learned the concept of hatred, but most everything else, good or bad, is something I wouldn’t trade.

Something you like to do: Enjoy time with family and friends.
Something you wish you’d never done: Fall on my bottom trying to skate with grace and beauty.

Things you’d walk a mile for: To help someone; being able to obtain a good book.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: Realizing I’m in a gym and I need to exercise.

Things you always put in your books: Humor.

Things you never put in your books: Intentional slurs.

Things to say to an author:
“I enjoy your work.”
“Wow! Do you write well. I couldn’t put your book/story down.”

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “Your writing stinks.”

Favorite things to do: Reading; going to a musical; sharing reading; and attending shows with others.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: Most kinds of exercise.

Things that make you happy: My family; a good book; a quiet moment; being told my words or actions have impacted someone.

Things that drive you crazy: Stupidity, people who simply don’t care.

Biggest lie you’ve ever told: “I like your book.”

A lie you wish you’d told: “I like your book.”

Best thing you’ve ever done: Being honest; Enjoyed something through the eyes of a child or grandchild.

Biggest mistake: Trying to cook a dinner, I made soup from scratch but then I threw noodles in at the last minute and it soaked up all the broth. My appetizer became chicken flavored seasoned noodles.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: Walking away from my lifetime appointment as a judge to follow my passion for writing.

Something you chickened out from doing: Skydiving.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR 


Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter, serves on SinC’s national board, and is president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Connect with Debra:

Website  |  Blog Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Books-a-Million  |  IndieBound  |  Walmart Hudson Booksellers











Thursday, December 6, 2018

FEATURED AUTHOR: ANDRA WATKINS




ABOUT THE BOOK 



When Emmaline Cagney's father dies on her graduation day, she foregoes college and heads to Honduras to volunteer with Nicaraguan refugees. It's 1986. The Sandinista-Contra war rages in the jungles all around her. But when General James Wilkinson reenters her life during a hurricane, can she trust him? Or should she flee?

Because of his unsolved death, Wilkinson is stuck in an in-between world called Nowhere, a place he's always used for his evil designs. Will he stick to his mission to help the Contras? Or will he ditch his mission to finally possess Emmaline?

As they fight to keep refugees safe and American involvement with the Contras secret from Congress, Em and Wilkinson careen toward a showdown that outstrips space and time, a place where nothing she knew about herself is true. And Em must confront the one person she never wanted to see again: her craven mother. Will Emmaline outwit the two people who peddled her childhood innocence before she runs out of time?




Book Details:


Title: I Am Number 13

Author: Andra Watkins

Genre: Thriller

Series: Nowhere Trilogy

Publisher: Word Hermit Press LLC (November 13, 2018)

Print length: 272
 pages

On tour with: Pump Up Your Book








INTERVIEW WITH ANDRA WATKINS


Q: Andra, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
A:
I Am Number 13 features the Biggest Scoundrel America Ever Produced. James Wilkinson worked for the first 5 Presidents of the United States while taking millions from a foreign enemy. He committed treason his entire career. His Spanish patrons called him Agent Number 13.

Q: Tell us about your series.
A:
What would you do if your life ended, but you were given the chance to have another adventure? What would you do?
I started wondering about those questions, particularly as they relate to historical characters who died too young. What might they have done with another chapter?

My Nowhere Series crafts afterlife stories for people from history who died mysteriously. I think the books are best enjoyed in the following order: Hard to Die, To Live Forever, and I Am Number 13.

Q: What is the most daring thing you've done?
A:
I walked the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. It’s a federal parkway. I walked with cars, trucks, and camper vans in 15-mile increments for 34 days. Even though the Trace is 10,000 years old, much of it is still very remote. I almost died multiple times.

I did the walk to launch my debut novel To Live Forever, but I ended up having a life-changing adventure with my eighty-year-old father. My New York Times best selling memoir Not Without My Father chronicles that experience.


Q: What is your most embarrassing moment?
A:
I wet my pants while reading in front of my entire second-grade class. I’d worn panty hose and culottes that day and thought I was so grown up. When I got about to go to the bathroom, I was too shy to ask my teacher and couldn’t hold it until I finished my reading. By the time I asked my teacher if I could go to the toilet, a little boy stood up in his chair at the front of class and screamed, “She’s doing it right there!”


Q: If someone gave you $5,000 and said you must solve a problem, what would you do with the money?
A:
Pay off part of my debt from launching a book while being on chemo and steroids. I wasn’t able to promote the book. Hard to Die was dead-on-arrival, because I wasn’t well enough to promote it. Nor was I healthy enough to dig out of that hole for about a year. 


Q: Do you have another job outside of writing?
A
: I’m also an accomplished public speaker and entertain groups all over the United States. My programs are high-energy motivational talks. I don’t do book tours or readings, though I usually talk about my writing process with book clubs and library groups.

Q: How did you meet your spouse?
A:
I was on a date with someone else, but he was late. My now-husband came into the restaurant. He said hello. I said hi. It was a nice moment.

My date showed up, and I ended things pretty quickly. The next week, I got an invite to lunch from my now-husband via email. Because I couldn’t figure out how he got my email address from “hello” and “hi,” I decided I had a stalker and stood him up.

Eventually, I reached out to him and invited him to lunch. I’m glad he didn’t stand me up, because we clicked. He’s the best thing about my life.

Q: If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?
A:
My husband.

Q: If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
A:
If money were no object = Copenhagen, Denmark
Realistically = Barcelona, Spain
If I had to flee the country on short notice = Quito, Ecuador

Q: How did you create the plot for this book?
A:
I Am Number 13 took two years to create. As I mentioned above, I had a serious incurable health issue. Drug treatment scrambled my brain. For over a year, I couldn’t write. I holed up in a residency in Switzerland and imagined my blockage as a lion pacing in front of my door. For two weeks, I wrote and sobbed. Everything I wrote was gibberish.

But the third and last week, my husband sent me the idea to set this book during the lead-up to Iran Contra, and everything clicked. I wrote 50,000 words in a week, polished everything last December, sent the book to beta readers, polished some more, sent it to my editor, polished even more, and here it is.

Q: Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
A:
Several of my characters in I Am Number 13 were real people. General James Wilkinson is known as the Biggest Scoundrel America Ever Produced. Theodosia Burr Alston also appears in the book. She was Aaron Burr’s tragic daughter and subject of the song “Dear Theodosia” in the musical Hamilton. Oh, and Ronald Reagan has a cameo.

Q: Is your book based on real events?
A:
I Am Number 13
is based on real events in that it is set during Iran Contra. I read several books on that scandal and the CIA’s role in Honduras and Nicaragua. The hurricane that starts the book even happened. But my storyline is a thriller/fantasy.

Q: What are you working on now?
A:
I’m working on a travelogue-memoir about the places I’m going to find hope with a hopeless situation. I have an incurable parasitic disease that’s causing me to go blind. The memoir chronicles the adventures I’m undertaking in search of peace, hope, and maybe even a miracle. Stay tuned.






OTHER BOOKS BY ANDRA WATKINS


To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis
Hard to Die
Natchez Trace: Tracks in Time
Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace



All books can also be purchased direct from Ingram Lightning Source via the Word Hermit Press shop! Paperback and e-book format.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times best selling author Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina.
A non-practicing CPA, she has a degree in accounting from Francis Marion University.
She’s still mad at her mother for refusing to let her major in musical theater. Her mom was convinced she’d end up starring in porn films.

She’s the author of five books and counting. Her acclaimed first novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis was published by Word Hermit Press on March 1, 2014. Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace is a memoir about her dysfunctional family adventure; it is a National Book Award nominee and a New York Times best seller. Natchez Trace: Tracks in Time is a book of photography, shot during her 15-mile daily hikes on her 444-mile Natchez Trace walk. Hard to Die is a prequel to her first novel To Live Forever. I Am Number 13 rounds out the first Nowhere trilogy.

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


Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Ingram Lightning Source via the Word Hermit Press shop