Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Author: Savannah Page

Savannah Page is on tour with CLP Blog Tours and she's stopping here today to talk about her chick lit novel, When Girlfriends Take Chances. Don't miss the Rafflecopter at the end of the post--enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

About the book

A novel about exploring love and life's path, and taking chances along the way.

Emily Saunders has never thought twice about grabbing her passport, rucksack, and camera and trekking across the globe. If there's an NGO, a study abroad program, or simply the travel itch, Emily's on the first plane out. Free-spirited, open-minded, and eager to explore, it's no wonder Emily's hardly in one spot (or relationship) for long.

For the past year and a half, though, Emily's found herself planted in her college hometown of Seattle. She's surrounded by her best friends, has steady work as a photographer and at her friend Sophie's café, and is certainly kept busy by the wild antics of her BFF Jackie. Life's enjoyable, but Emily's looking for something more. She's ready for a change, for adventure!

But when Emily tells her girlfriends she's ready for something new she does not expect Operation Blind Date!

Sure, Emily's single. Sure, she hopes to some day find true love. But being thrown into an insane challenge like this is not exactly the adventure she had in mind! Couldn't she just travel and focus on her photography? Or volunteer in Africa? Will a string of eligible bachelors lined up by her friends--a shot at finding a real and lasting love--really be that change she's searching for?

This is a spirited story about seeking adventure while being true to yourself, wherever you are in life. It's a story about love, risk, and self-discovery. About what happens when girlfriends take chances.

Other Books by Savannah Page

When Girlfriends Let Go
When Girlfriends Chase Dreams
When Girlfriends Make Choices
When Girlfriends Step Up (On SALE 99 cents!)
When Girlfriends Break Hearts
When Girlfriends Collection, Books 1-3 (On SALE 99 cents!)

Interview with Savannah Page

Savannah, you have a long list of books to your credit. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I started filling up notebooks with shorts stories at the age of six, and I haven’t stopped writing since.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I consider writing to be my full-time profession. In addition to being an author, I blog and manage the social media marketing for a wedding and event florist back in my college hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. So when I’m not writing novels I’m writing about wedding flowers and trends and design. I can’t think of two better gigs!

Pretty sweet gigs. How did you create the plot for this book?

Emily is my most whimsical and well-traveled character so there were a lot of directions I could have taken her story. I knew right away that I wanted to keep her in Seattle longer than she had planned, thereby making her antsy and unable to avoid some fun plot twists and episodes that I had in mind for her. Her story is about taking chances...and that doesn’t just mean strapping on a backpack, grabbing a passport, and heading overseas for an adventure. Sometimes grand adventures are right in your own backyard (and can involve the heart).

Tell us a book by an indie author for which you’re an evangelist.

I really enjoy Rachel Schurig’s chick lits. She’s a great author, her stories are fun and entertaining, and on top of that she’s a real sweetheart. She helped me out quite a bit in the early stages of my self-publishing journey, encouraging me to start my When Girlfriends series and crank out one novel after another. She’s one of my biggest inspirations as a fellow chick lit indie author.

How do you get to know your characters?

I spend a lot of time acting out scenes in my apartment. To the outsider (and probably neighbors when the windows are open), I look like a crazy person. Or perhaps a practicing actress. I have to really act as my characters, say their lines, make their gestures, and even figure out how they’d react to a particular issue in the news to understand who they are. My editor has a great and easy tip for helping define characters’ voices: Ask, Who would they vote for/how would they vote on an issue, and why.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

She’s my damaged and most controversial character, Jackie. She has a very strong voice and personality and writing her is a blast. Sometimes she does things that shock me and give me a headache, but that’s one of the reasons I love her. She’s alive! She elicits emotion.

Sophie holds a special place in my heart with her OCDness and controlling personality, plus she was the girlfriend who got the first book (When Girlfriends Break Hearts) and will also get the last (her second book, When Girlfriends Find Love, out May 2014). But Emily, the protagonist of When Girlfriends Take Chances, is caring, daring, open-minded, and fun. I really enjoyed getting to write her story and voice.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

As I move on from my seven-book When Girlfriends collection and on to a new series, I’ve learned that I always write a novel with some real personal or life event in mind. I need that tangible inspiration and experience to really feel a work. For WG I took my own group of college girlfriends into account, thinking about the fascinating idea that an eclectic group of women could be such great friends, and that time and distance could wedge their ways in, but our friendship remains strong. From there the entire WG collection took off.

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

Emily. She belongs to a book club, like myself, and has a similar taste in reads. We both love travel narratives, memoirs, and a good adventure story. Although, she’s not much a fan of Jane Austen so we could have a bit of a bickering session there.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

Writing the scenes with Emily and Ben were fun because Ben’s attractive, a little mysterious, a bit of trouble. Those kinds of emotional or edge-of-the-seat scenes with such characters are fun to write and read. But the last chapter is one of my favorites!

What book are you currently reading and in what format (ebook/paperback/hardcover)?

I always have a number of books I’m reading at one time, and in different formats. Right now my paperbacks are Candace Bushnell’s Trading Up and Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In ebook format I recently finished Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette and loved it!

Where’s home for you?

I may enjoy travel like Emily, but home is not wherever I hang my hat. Home is Berlin in our cozy apartment in the centre of the city. I love long getaways, but luckily home is an adopted city I absolutely love, so I never feel like, “Drats! Vacation’s over and we’re back home.” Of course, as soon as I step foot in California or get some tasty Mexican food or go to a Target, I’m also home!

Neil Gaiman said, “Picking five favorite books is like picking five body parts you'd most like not to lose.” So…what are your five favorite books and your five body parts you’d most like not to lose?

Haha! Books: 1) My entire Emily Giffin collection. She gets her own shelf and I’d die without her books. 2) My Gossip Girl collection. 3) My Harry Potter collection. 4) My Sophie Kinsella collection. 5) And since I’ve so been cheating with these collections, I’d like to say my F. Scott Fitzgerald collection as number five, but if just one, it’d be the one and only The Great Gatsby

Body Parts: 1) Eyes. I had a serious vision scare and surgery a few years ago. My eyes are my most prized possession! 2) Hands. (Because writing—and doing just about anything else—without them would be a major challenge.) 3) I suppose all of my vital organs. 4) And my brain. 5) And feet come in handy when wanting to run around...

You’re leaving your country for a year. What’s the last meal (or food) you would want to have before leaving?

I left the US for a permanent move to Germany in 2010 and had both In-N-Out and a feast of Mexican food that week before I left.

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

I loved my university’s library (The University of Tulsa), McFarlin Library. It’s large and beautiful and has so many little alcoves where you can read and study in peace. It holds a lot of college memories for me, too.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

Read, shop, and go for a drive.

What would your dream office look like?

Just as it is! I have a lovely little office in my apartment with everything I need, including a nice, big window that lets in a lot of natural light.

Are you happy with your decision to self-publish?

Absolutely! In addition to becoming self-employed with my blogging business, choosing to self-publish my first book and not look back has been the best career move I could imagine!

What steps to self-publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do? Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?

Every writer needs an editor. You can be the best speller, the know-it-all grammarian, or the top of your English graduating class at university, but you’ll still benefit from an editor’s extra set of eyes and skills. I use Invisible Ink Editing and am so happy with the work they do. They practice attention-to-detail while maintaining my voice with all of their edits.

I also recommend indie authors hire someone to do their cover art. Unless you’re a graphic artist, I would outsource this. As I tell my husband (my cover artist), “I’m an author. Give me a pencil and I’ll write you a story. Don’t ask for me to draw you anything.” Many people judge books by their covers, period, and while a book’s content may be the next best thing since sliced bread, if it has a very amateur cover on it, unfortunately many readers may pass it by, thinking the content will also lack in professionalism and promise. Don’t let your cover turn potential readers away! There are plenty of indie book cover artists, like indie editors, formatters, and proofreaders, who are affordable and produce fabulous work. Your novel is an investment and your baby, so give it some love!

As for formatting, that can be tricky work. But if you’re patient and learn the steps, you can save some cash and do this yourself. (Again, there are others in the indie community, such as editors who offer this as an extra service, who can be an affordable and easy option.) I choose to do this myself. I invested a good 15+ hours to learn the ins and outs of Scrivener (only the best writing software that I’d be lost without) and in a flash can format any ebook and paperback.

I love Scrivener too! What’s your favorite candy bar? And don’t tell me you don’t have one!

Spiced jelly beans and circus peanuts. Yes, two very weird but delicious candies.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I can’t read enough books or watch enough television. I enjoy Pilates, crocheting, gardening, shopping (from groceries to shoes), listening to Rick Steves podcasts, pinning wedding flowers on Pinterest, and café-frequenting.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Right now I love living in Berlin, but NYC, or on a sailboat in Florida, or Santa Barbara, California would be nice, too.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on releasing the seventh and final When Girlfriends novel. I’m also working on two new series, both chick lit and women’s fiction, which I plan on publishing this year.

Excerpt from When Girlfriends Take Chances

“That’s a fantastic idea!” Jackie blurts out.

“How come I didn’t think of that?” Sophie says.

“That’s not a bad idea, Claire,” Robin says with a nod.

“Perrrrrfect,” Claire sings, returning to her position on the floor by the coffee table. “Such a superbly perfect idea.” She claps her hands together several times. “What do you think, Emily? Brilliant idea, right?”

There are two words that incite major worry and panic, even in someone like me who’s as open to dating, well, just about anyone. One is “blind” and the other is—you guessed it—“date.” God help me.

We’re not just talking a blind date, but several—hear me, plural—blind dates.

“Think about it,” Sophie says, abandoning her wine, her eyes going all star-gazey. “You could meet all sorts of guys. You could dispense with the annoying and time-wasting ‘nice to meet you’ stuff.”

“Yeah!” Jackie cuts in. “Like you wouldn’t have to waste your time on meeting someone and striking up that first conversation that would lead to a date. It’s just, BAM, a date!”
BAM is right.

All right, I’m single, and I have been for a while. And, sure, it’d be nice to find someone I could really connect with and, yeah, fall in love with. But easier said than done. I mean, if I’m going to find someone I can be really and truly serious with then they’ll have to keep up with me, so to speak. I’m not a let’s-get-a-mortgage or even a let’s-have-a-career kind of woman. My lifestyle isn’t exactly what men who are looking for a serious and lasting relationship go for.

Besides, I’m not so hard-up for a date or budding romance that I need to sign on for a round of blind dates—a series of awkward meet-and-greets, an exchange of interests and goals and accomplishments, that unavoidable question about a second date, that unavoidable expectation come the third or fourth date. My mouth suddenly feels dry. I reach for my wine and take a heavy slog.

“I think this is brilliant,” Claire says. She crosses her arms, looking extremely pleased with herself. “This is revolutionary!”

“No,” Lara finally pipes in.

Oh, thank you for coming to my rescue, finally, Lara! I think, still draining my wine.
“It’s not quite revolutionary…yet.” A sly smirk is playing Lara’s lips. “We’re missing something that’ll revolutionize the blind dating experience.”

“I know!” I toss out. All eyes simultaneously turn to me. “I know what would revolutionize this experience.”

“Yeah?” Jackie asks eagerly.

“Totally...” I drag out. “!” I smile brightly. “Brilliant way to revolutionize blind dating, right? Do away with the whole buggy thing.”

“Oh, whatever,” Claire scoffs. “Don’t be a sourpuss. We’re doing this, Emily. It will be amazing, just you wait.”

About the author:

Savannah Page is the author of the continuing When Girlfriends collection, heartfelt women's fiction that celebrates friendship, love, and life sprinkled with drama and humor. When she isn’t writing, Savannah enjoys a good book with a latte and jazz tunes, Pilates, and exploring her home of Berlin as an American expat. Currently she's working on the seventh and final When Girlfriends novel, and is cooking up something delicious for her next series.

Connect with Savannah:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo 

Book Blast: Double Alchemy

 Title: Double Alchemy
 Author: Susan Mac Nicol
 Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
 Release Date: 25th March, 2014
As well as attending all tour stops, Susan will be doing a one-hour Tweetup with Virtual Writers, where she will share some of her writing secrets and publishing tips on Twitter. Susan and her publisher (Boroughs Publishing Group) will be awarding a copy of Stripped Bare and a copy of Cassandra by Starlight to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  To increase your chances of winning, stop by each of the scheduled stops and leave a comment.

In addition to the tour stops, we have created a party page on Facebook where we will be setting some fun challenges and games. Come along and join us – you may even catch Susan chatting with her fans. For more details and the full schedule & giveaway entry form check out Susan’s official tour page.

Praise for Double Alchemy

“I love Paranormal stories & I'm a huge fan of Susan Mac Nicol's M/M books. In this book, she brings both genres together & gives us this amazing story. With her master storytelling, she takes us into the mystical & magical world of Witches, Warlocks, Withinners & Feys. A world where danger lurks in the shadows.” - Maria Recchia

“I stayed up all night reading this story. Susan has a way of writing that is different than anyone else. She's uniquely brilliant at weaving a tale that brings out my emotions. I have laughed in every one of her stories. That's incredible for me. Not just a smile, but a laugh. I love that. This book needs to be read. You won’t be disappointed.” - Author Kindle Alexander

About the book

Powerful yet tormented modern warlock Quinn Fairmont must initiate the silver-eyed Cade Mairston into the world of witchfinders, Withinners, and what can happen when two men fall truly, madly, deeply in love.


In modern London there lurks a warlock, Quinn Fairmont. Dangerous, powerful, tortured, sharing his body with the soul of an ancient Welsh sorcerer, Quinn is never alone—and never wholly himself. He fights against all those who would exploit his kind. He takes pleasure where he can find it.

In the forest of Hampstead Heath, Quinn’s hometown, Cade Mairston appears to him like a waking dream. Lithe, lean and silver-eyed, he evokes feelings in Quinn unlike any other: lust with true affection, immediate and shocking. Cade is clearly more than he seems. And yet, if a man of the world, Cade is innocent. He knows nothing of warlocks, witchfinders or Withinners. He knows nothing of what he is, what he might be, or what he might feel. For him, the story is just beginning. Magyck, peril and passion await. More awaits in book two…

Praise for Susan Mac Nicol

"We have to re-iterate that this Author will always be an automatic one-click for us. Her writing is flawless and her flawed characters are completely lovable. There’s always something quirky and fun in her stories as well as drama, angst and heaps of passion! We can highly recommend!!" - Gitte & Jenny - Totally Booked Blog

"Susan has been hailed as a genius writer of male/male literature. Her Saving Alexander has been nominated for several awards and has been reviewed widely. Congrats on all your success, Susan. You have earned it." - Gay Lit Authors

About Susan Mac Nicol

Susan Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, UK, and left for South Africa when she was eight. She returned to the UK thirty years later and now lives in Essex. Her debut novel Cassandra by Starlight, the first in a trilogy, was published last year by Boroughs Publishing Group in the US. Sue’s latest story, Double Alchemy is her fifth m/m romance.

Sue has written since she was very young, and never thought she would see herself becoming a Romance writer, being a horror/psychological thriller reader all her life. But the Romance genre is now something very close to her heart and she intends continuing the trend.

Sue is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Romantic Novelists Association here in the UK.

Susan Mac Nicol is also author of The Magick of Christmas, Confounding Cupid, Cassandra by Starlight, Together in Starlight, Stripped Bare, Saving Alexander, Worth Keeping and Waiting for Rain.

Connect with Susan
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

Buy the book
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA | Buroughs Publishing | Smashwords | All Romance

Book Trailer

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Author: Susan Israel

"Smart, witty, and delightfully unpredictable, Susan Israel's Over My Live Body is a truly wonderful debut. Highly recommended."
– Doug Corleone, author of Good as Gone

About the book:

Delilah is accustomed to people seeing her naked. As a nude model – a gig that keeps food on the table while her career as a sculptor takes off – it comes with the territory. 

But Delilah has never before felt this vulnerable. 

Because Delilah has an admirer. Someone who is paying a great deal of attention to her. And he just might love her to death.

 The debut of a shockingly fresh voice in suspense fiction, Over My Live Body will work its way inside of you.

Interview with Susan Israel

Susan, how long have you been writing and how did you start?

I wrote my first (really bad!) "novel" when I was in 7th grade and 
wrote even before that; it was a way to cope with feeling bullied. I
 thought about writing professionally when I was in high school, but had
 no outlet and little encouragement, save for an English teacher who 
recognized that the sentences I wrote as exercises had a plot and I had
 the temerity to name one of the characters Jane Austen! It wasn't until
I went to college that I dove in head-first and found an audience.

What's the story behind the title Over My Live Body?

I didn't have any title per se when I started writing what would turn
out to be Over My Live Body, I referred to it as "work in progress."
 For a short time I gave it the working title "The Object Of My 
Affection" but that didn't stick either. There was a movie I hadn't 
seen by that title and I didn't want it to be confused with that.
 Furthermore, since the book is written from Delilah's point of view, I 
wanted a more Delilah-centric title, and Over My Live Body fit in more
ways than one.

How did you create the plot for this book?

I was a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer, writing every day and letting
 the characters do as they willed, and when I had the finished product,
I went back and revised and polished. I had a synopsis before I started 
writing my second, but to a certain extent, the characters still take

Is your book based on real events?

Nothing in my book is based on actual events, but some similar
 incidents have occurred in the course of writing the books, a case of 
"life imitates art." I listen to 24/7 news a lot and punctuate my
 narrative with what I hope are realistic references to daily police 
activity in the city; sometimes all too realistic. But none of the 
incidents in my books are based on anything real.

Are you like any of your characters?

I would say I'm a lot like Delilah except she is younger and taller.

Who are your favorite authors?

There are many but I'll touch on a few. When I'm reading, I love a sense of place as well as characters and plot, whether it be fiction or nonfiction. One of my favorite books has always been A Moveable Feast, though Hemingway isn't my absolute favorite author. I would include F. Scott Fitzgerald, who also captured the 20s so well, a decade I wish I had lived in. For mysteries, I love the Paris settings and characters of Cara Black. I'm a big fan of Peter Matthiessen, who I had the good fortune to have as a writing professor.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

My favorite time to write is at night, when it's generally quieter outside, when the sun isn't in my eyes, when there's less extraneous noise that I can't control. (My own TV or radio doesn't bother me.) Daylight Saving Time is not my best friend, though I like the weather that goes with it. I wrote all of Over My Live Body in a generic computer cluster, but that cluster doesn't exist any more.

Where's home for you?

Home is where my dog is.

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

My favorite library is Yale's Sterling Memorial Library (except during periods of renovation every few years). I love the reading rooms with the cushy leather chairs and the mezzanine floors of the stacks where you can literally hide from the world and write or read something you never knew existed. I feel safe and cloistered there.

What's your favorite candy bar?

I love Lindt bars, especially dark chocolate, and Sky Bar. But especially anything Lindt.

About the author:

Susan Israel lives in Connecticut with her beloved dog, but New York City lives in her heart and mind. A graduate of Yale College, her fiction has been published in Other Voices, Hawaii Review and Vignette, and she has written for magazines, websites and newspapers, including Glamour, Girls Life, Ladies Home Journal and The Washington Post. She's currently at work on the second book in the Delilah Price series, Student Bodies.

Find Susan:
Facebook | 
Goodreads | 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Story Plant

Happy 1st Birthday, France Book Tours!

France Book Tours Banner 1st anniversary

France Book Tours is celebrating its first anniversary on April 18!

  France Book Tours has been thrilled to present amazing books related to France for a year. To thank the authors who submitted their books and the bloggers who read and reviewed them, France Book Tours organizes a mega giveaway from April 18-25! Depending on the number of entries in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this page, they may give away up to 10 books, so spread the word! The winners will be chosen on April 26. Here are all the books available to win! Click on each cover to know more about it. Please note what format the book is available in. Note also that some books are only available for US/Canada residents. If nothing is specified, it means you can receive the ebook or the print copy where ever you live.

Historical fiction

Spirit of Lost Angels Wolfsangel_CoverFinal Becoming Josephine
Spirit of Angels = print + ecopy Wolfsangel = print + ecopy Becoming Josephine = print for US/Canada only
Unravelled Ambitious Madame Bonap
Unravelled = print The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte = print for US/Canada only


The Paris Lawyer The Mona Lisa Speaks
The Paris Lawyer = print for US/Canada only + ecopy The Mona Lisa Speaks = print for US/Canada only + ecopy


I see London cover Paris Rue des Martyrs - cover final
I See London I See France = print for US/Canada only Paris, Rue Des Martyrs = ecopy


The Paris Game Moonlight & LoveSongs City of Jasmine
The Paris Game = ebook Moonlight & Love Songs = ebook City of Jasmine = signed print copy for US/Canada only
Promise of Provence
The Promise of Provence = ecopy

Nonfiction - memoir

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl - cover
Confessions of a Paris Party Girl = ecopy


April 23 at 5pm Central Time #franceBT

Spread the word!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Tour

Paul Anthony
was kind enough to tag me in the Writing Process Blog Tour. In addition to be a prolific writer, Paul is one of the biggest supporters of indie authors I know, and I am always grateful and flattered when he asks me to participate in a blog hop.

Paul Anthony is the pseudonym of a man born in Southport, Lancashire. He has written a number of fictional novels and a collection of poetry in print, Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad and PDF Download. He has also written television scripts, screenplays and film scripts as an individual or with the award wining scriptwriter, Nick Gordon. The son of a soldier, Paul Anthony settled in Cumbria before becoming a police cadet. Seconded to Haigh Colliery in Whitehaven, he mined the pit face and then worked at a biscuit factory, in Carlisle, as a machine operator. He also worked with deaf people and was trained in the treatment of drug addicts and alcoholics. Paul went to Eskdale Outward Bound School but eventually joined Cumbria Police proper. Working as a detective, he served in the CID, the Regional Crime Squad in Manchester, the Special Branch, and other national agencies in the UK. He has an honours degree in social sciences, and diplomas in management and office management.

Please visit Paul at his blog, and find out how he answered The Four Questions and to find out more about his books. Follow the participants in the tour to meet some great authors and read about their writing processes as well as their fantastic books.

The Four Questions

Every author in the Writing Process Blog Tour must answer the same four questions. So without any further ado, here are my answers to the four Q's:

1)    What am I working on?

Right now I’m working on several projects. I’m doing final edits for the second book in my Goose Pimple Junction mystery series, Heroes & Hooligans, in which Martha Maye and Johnny Butterfield are the main characters. Louetta, Tess, Jack, and Pickle will be back, but the story will be centered around Martha Maye and her soon-to-be ex-husband, who doesn't want to be an ex. Add some new characters--big flirt Honey Winchester and Louetta's sister Ima Jean, who has left the store without all her groceries, if you know what I mean. And then there's the thief who's stealing the town blind, and Martha Maye's stalker...

I’m almost finished writing a GPJ novella, Short & Tall Tales in Goose Pimple Junction, that will go in between GPJ books one and two; and every once in a while I work on the third book in the series, Rogues & Rascals, although it’s slow going.

2)    How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think what’s different about my GPJ series are the quirky characters and the quaint but idiosyncratic small southern town in which they live. They’re a right neighborly sort, full of colorful talk and good intentions. And they don’t let little things like murder and mayhem get them down.

3)    Why do I write what I do?

That’s a darn good question. Actually, my idea for Murder & Mayhem came from family history involving--what else but--murder and mayhem. I wanted to write about the stories I’d heard all my life. 
But I decided I wanted the town to be a little kooky. My father and grandfather were always coming up with colorful southern phrases, such as “I’ll be there if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.” Why answer with a simple "fine" to the question "How are you?" when you can say, “I’m still buying green bananas?” or "If I were any better I'd have to be twins." Those sayings and more stuck with me, and when I started writing, I researched and found gobs more. So that's how I started writing humorous mysteries. When I finished writing the first book, I found that the characters wouldn't go away. They kept coming up with new ways to create murder and mayhem, so as long as they hang around in my head, I'll keep writing humorous murder mysteries.

4)    How does my writing process work?

The first drafts are bare bones. I try to get down the gist of the plot as it comes to me. After that, I go back and start layering. I add details and reword things. After that I go back and start layering. I add details and reword things. Yes, I really did say that twice. But actually, I add details and reword things over and over and over until I’m sick to death of the story. I also do this after each beta reader gives me feedback. And I continue to do this as I go through for typos and errors. I’m learning not to give the manuscript to an editor until I’ve layered about a hundred times. After an editor looks at it, and I make changes due to her suggestions, I go over it again. And again. Knowing when to stop is my biggest problem.

Thank you again, Paul Anthony, for inviting me to this blog hop. What better time to be in a blog hop than the week before Easter? Sorry, bad joke. At the top of this post, I said Paul is one of the biggest supporters of indie authors I know. Also on that list are three authors I invited to the blog hop. Check out their blogs and their books. You'll be glad you did!

Next up...

I have tapped Leti Del Mar, Christoph Fischer, and Billie Thomas to take part in the Writing Process Blog Tour. Watch their blogs next Monday for their posts.

Leti Del Mar lives in sunny Southern California with her husband, daughter, and abnormally large cat. When she isn’t writing, reading, or blogging, she is teaching Biology and Algebra to teenagers. Leti is also a classic film buff, passionate about Art History, and loves to travel. Find Leti at her blog, Words With Leti Del Mar.

Leti's Amazon author page

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border. After a few years in Hamburg he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small hamlet, not far from Bath. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family. 
Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. He completed the historical Three Nations Trilogy last year and will publish his first contemporary novel Time To Let Go in May. Find Christoph at his blog.

Christoph's Amazon author page

Billie Thomas is the pseudonym of Birmingham-based author, Stephanie Naman. Her debut novel, Murder on the First Day of Christmas, is the first in the Chloe Carstairs Mystery Series. Stephanie's day job is in the advertising industry (which might explain why she’s constantly thinking up ways to kill people without getting caught). Connect with her at her blog, Chloe Gets a Clue, or on Twitter.

Billie's Amazon author page


Friday, April 11, 2014

Featured Author: Emily Sue Harvey

Emily Sue Harvey is on tour with The Story Plant and she's here today to talk about her contemporary romance novel, Cocoon

About the book

New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry has said that, “Emily Sue Harvey has a sure touch and strong voice. She's a talent to watch.” New York Times bestselling author Jill Marie Landis called Harvey’s first novel, Song of Renewal, “an uplifting, heartwarming story.” Now Harvey returns with a tale as rich in drama as it poignant in the truths it tells.

When widowed Seana Howard meets Barth McGrath, a newcomer to their little town, she never dreams she’ll fall in love again. Despite his somewhat quirky ways, she falls for the man. The only problem is that her married children do not trust the mysterious stranger. Who is he? Where exactly did he come from? Why are there so many questions about his past? 

Against their wishes, Seana elopes with Barth and is happier than she’s been in years. Then her happiness shatters when a mysterious illness suddenly befalls her, exiling her once brilliant mind to a dark nightmare from which she may never return. The eclipse is startling and complete. Will Barth, with such a short history with Seana, love her enough to endure the trials of caring for someone under such dire circumstances? Can her family get past their suspicions and trust his motives and love for their mother? Will Seana ever escape her dark cocoon and reclaim her very purpose for living? Will life give her a second chance to spread her wings, like a beautiful butterfly?

Cocoon is a life-affirming story of travail, obstacles, and the extraordinary lengths that undying love will travel.

Interview with Emily Sue Harvey

Emily, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I’ve been writing since college days. The tragic death of my eleven-year-old Angie turned my life from teaching aspirations to writing. I began writing for therapy and discovered it to be a gift, as well as a passion. I connected with Southeastern Writers Association in the late eighties, winning twenty plus awards before joining the Board of Directors and eventually serving as president. I served there for twenty-five plus years. During that time, I gained dozens of short story credits in anthologies such as Chicken Soup, Chocolate for Women, Woman’s Day, and True Story, to name a few. I then launched out into mainstream fiction novels. In 2009, Story Plant published my premiere novel, Song of Renewal. Later that year, I signed a six book contract with Story Plant. I’m currently working on my seventh book for them, entitled, Twilight Time. 

What’s the story behind the title Cocoon?

The title, Cocoon, symbolizes both the dark steroid psychosis imprisonment of the heroine, Seana McGrath and later, her miraculous metamorphosis into the beautiful butterfly.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

Writing is full time for me.

How did you create the plot for Cocoon?

The Cocoon plot is based on a true to life story. This happens to a degree with many of my books but in Cocoon, the medical details remain authentic. The characters, though fictionalized, in some aspects are like Gerald and Kay Turner, the real life couple. All else is pure fiction. 

What’s your favorite line from a book? 

A quotation by Andy Andrews from the Butterfly Effect:

 “A butterfly can flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air—eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet.”

How do you get to know your characters?

I fall in love with each of my characters in the beginning of creation and delve into their hearts, minds, and souls as a way of understanding their choices in the story. I don’t give up on even the vilest of characters, knowing anyone can be redeemed. Each of my stories has components of love, betrayal, forgiveness, and redemption.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Wow! That’s tough because I love all my characters. But I think I enjoyed writing about Seana because she was so complex. The steroid psychosis transformed her into someone else entirely, taking her “away” from her loved ones. In the story, I had to get inside Seana’s head while she was experiencing the psychosis, which lasted several years. I did this by talking extensively with the real life victim and her caretaker. It was definitely a challenge.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Cocoon characters are based on composites of many different people I know and have known. Some are based entirely on actual people I know. For instance, I’ve already revealed Seana and Barth McGrath to be based on Kay and Gerald Turner. Billy Jean is based on my friend, Billie Jane McGregor, who, like the book’s character, battles bone cancer. I love to profile true heroes because they encourage those battling the odds to keep on keeping on.

Are you like any of your characters?

There’s a little of me in all my characters. Else, how could I create and understand them? I like to think that I’m a loving, merciful, forgiving person and so most of my characters eventually find those traits in themselves. But not before plodding through some valleys because only then can one appreciate the mountain tops.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

I would be Zoe, Seana’s wildflower daughter. She’s a lioness, yet later she reveals a more gentle, compassionate side when she falls in love with hunky Scott, the coach who finally tames her.

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

Oh, I would definitely like to be stuck in a bookstore with Barth. He’s such an intellectual guy who knows all about—well, just about everything, from homeopathic medicine to how to cook up a fantastic, healthy gourmet meal! I love men who can cook!

With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

That’s really a fun question to mull over. Being stuck in a bookstore with them, huh? In this order: Pat Conroy, Ann Rivers-Siddons, Jan Karon, Jill Marie Landis, and  Lisa Gardner. Ask me next week and the names may vary except the first one.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

My favorite scene is the one in which Seana is awakened suddenly in the dark of night by a mysterious, extraordinary light that envelopes her, at once soothing and warming her and causing a prickling. Yet is isn’t fear. It will be a life-changing, miraculous experience for the woman who’s been entrapped in a cocoon for several years.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

"Through it All" by Andre Crouche.

Who are your favorite authors?

Pat Conroy and Ann Rivers-Siddons top the list.

You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?

Pat Conroy.

I'm sensing a pattern here! 

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)? 

Paperback: Veronica Roth’s best-seller, Divergent. My teen grandson, Jensen, wanted me to read it, and it’s a page turner.

Do you have a routine for writing? 

Depends on whether I’m working on a book project. If so, I work regular hours, like from ten a.m. until two in the afternoon. Or from four p.m. until eight in the evening. When not working on a book, which is not often, I usually do my blogs and etc. mid-morning.

Where’s home for you? 

Startex South Carolina, the mill hill setting for my national bestselling novel, Unto These Hills. The old mill hill name was Tucapau, which I use in the book.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

The Bible.

Are you happy with your current publishing choice?

I’m extremely happy to be with Story Plant publishing house. Lou Aronica originally helped me edit (cut 100 pages) from a novel with the Peter Miller Literary and Film Agency in New York. Later when Lou and Peter Miller formed Story Plant publishing house, they loved my writing and put me under contract to write for them. I feel truly blessed to be where I am with Story Plant. I’m in very good company.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“To love and be loved is the greatest blessing on earth.” --Unknown.

What’s your favorite candy bar?

Giant Snickers with almonds...

That's mine, too! 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Right here in Startex, South Carolina.

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing Twilight Time as you read this. It’s the story of a couple simultaneously battling trauma and Alzheimer’s. Deepening shadows gather splendor over Peter and Rachel, and they fall in love again, as they did then.

About the author

New York Times bestselling author Jill Marie Landis called Song of Renewal “An uplifting, heartwarming story of forgiveness, commitment, and love, and Kay Allenbaugh, bestselling author of Chocolate for a Woman’s Soul says “Emily Sue Harvey’s work will linger in the memory long after readers put it aside.” National bestselling author Harvey, who has written numerous inspiring works of nonfiction, writes intensely romantic novels that thrill the heart as they inspire the soul. Her stories have something to say to every family.

Connect with Emily:

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Featured Author: George R. Hopkins

George R. Hopkins' mystery novel, Letters from the Dead, is a 2013 Readers Favorite International Book Contest Award Winner and 2013-2014 Reader View Literary Award Winner. Dr. Oliva Dsouza, of Readers' Favorite, says, “A thriller that entangles you in the web of intermingling story tracks and keeps you guessing till the end.” Michel Violante of Reader Views says the book is “An intriguing thriller that kept me glued to the pages. I was not able to put it down thanks to the combination of interesting characters, pacing and suspense, along with the humor.” George is here today with an excerpt and to chat about writing, himself, and his books.

About the book:    

What do you do when a killer comes after the people you love? Set against the background of the hunt for serial killer Lex Talionis, Letters from the Dead includes a cast of complex characters: hard-nosed, hot-headed NYC homicide detective Tom Cavanaugh; Cavanaugh’s half-brother, Jack Bennis, a Jesuit priest and former covert agent; 90 year-old Mary Jane McIntyre in a nursing home guarding deadly secrets in letters from her dead sister; and a ninja-like killer bent on revenge for the cyber-bullying suicide of his daughter. Together in this fast-paced mystery-thriller, they confront a wide array of physical, emotional, and psychological conflicts – including anger, aging, marriage, pregnancy, love … and murder.

Interview with George Hopkins

George, how long have you been writing, and how did you start? 

I’ve been writing on and off for over fifty years. I was Sports Editor of my weekly college newspaper for a while and majored in English. I taught English in high schools for over thirty years and had a number of essays published in our local newspaper. I wanted to try fiction, and for the last ten years I’ve been writing mystery/thrillers. 

What’s the story behind the title Letters from the Dead 

A 90-year-old woman in a nursing home keeps a group of letters she received from her now dead sister.  The letters hold secrets that her two sons never knew. The letters could change the brothers, but they also put the elderly woman in danger as they also reveal things about another resident of the nursing home that could implicate him in a number of crimes.

Do you have another job outside of writing?   

I conduct a writing workshop at the John Noble Maritime Collection on Staten Island, New York. I also have been coordinating a Senior Poetry Contest and Festival for the Community Agency for Senior Citizens for the past fourteen years.

How did you create the plot for this book?
This is an interesting question I never thought about before. Actually, with this mystery, I started with the killer and worked backwards. I introduced a lot of cross-conflicts and an elderly aunt who holds letters written by the mother of the major characters. The letters reveal secrets the brothers do not know, but also put her life in danger.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

My favorite line is naming the serial killer. If I told you the line, however, it would give away the ending.

Talk about a hook! How do you get to know your characters?  

I put myself in their shoes. I’ve come to realize that there are usually no completely blacks or whites in life, but a series of grays. All of my characters face real problems.  How they deal with the problems and conflicts make up the story. No one is without blemishes or totally evil. We are what we are.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?  

All of my characters are a part of me. Choosing one would be like asking me which of my children do I love the most. I love them all – for better or worse.

What would your main character say about you?   

“He’s not really a bad guy. He means well. He gets a bit obsessed at times. He’s scrupulous, basically moral, has a sense of humor (maybe a little sick at times), and loves life. He’s not very aggressive, but with him – still waters definitely run deep – and I wouldn’t like to get on his wrong side. He loves his family, writing, and golf – in that order (although he is a horrible golfer).”

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

My characters are a part of all the experiences I have had and the imagination of my sometimes fertile mind. No one is based on a real person. Rather they are all based on combinations and imagination.

Is your book based on real events?  

No.  Although there are elements in it that are real like the stories of Rwanda, Somalia, post-stress-traumatic syndrome, and ectopic pregnancies.

Are you like any of your characters?

Probably. We are all human beings, and we all have flaws as well as strengths.

One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?    

He would probably have my wife come up to me and shoot me as she said, “I am sick and tired of calling you for dinner while you keep typing on that damn computer. How many times do I have to tell you dinner is ready? I’ve had it. Eat this!” BANG!

Yikes! I'd be on time to dinner, if I were you! If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?   

I’m a part of all my characters, but I would probably choose Cavanaugh because he appears resolute on the outside, but he tries to keep his true feelings to himself.

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?   

Father Jack Bennis. He is well-read and has had multiple experiences as a soldier, an assassin, and now a priest.

A father with experience as an assassin? Now that is intriguing. With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore? 

My family.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book. 

This would be the rape scene where Fran’s ex-lover attacks her and she fights for the gun in her purse. Or it could be the scene where Cavanaugh encounters the serial killer in Fran’s apartment.

Who are your favorite authors? 

Michael Connelly, James Patterson (when he writes by himself), Pat Conroy, James Joyce, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Lawrence Sanders, Robert Parker – eclectic group!

Yes, and you have some of mine in there! What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?

Grammatical and spelling errors.

Do you have a routine for writing?   

I usually write at night when everyone else has gone to bed. The plan is to write one page a night so that at the end of the year I will have written 365 pages, but I tend to get on a roll at times which means I finish the book earlier (unless there are a lot of distractions in my life – which there usually are) and I go to bed much later.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing? 

I prefer to write at night so no one disturbs me, and I don’t disturb anyone else.  It seems sometimes when I am sitting at the computer typing I get the feeling my wife feels I am goofing off. It’s much better for both of us if I write alone.

Where’s home for you?   

I live in Staten Island, the “forgotten” borough of New York City.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be? 

The dictionary.

You’re leaving your country for a year. What’s the last meal (or food) you would want to have before leaving?   

A 24 oz. steak, medium-rare, smothered with onions and mushrooms or simply a quarter-pounder with cheese, onion rings, and French fries.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?  

A bookstore because you can talk more freely to people.

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

The 42nd Street Library in Manhattan because it has everything a “normal” person would want or need.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?   

Play golf with my friends or play with my grandchildren.

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

The Little Engine that Could.

I love that! What would your dream office look like?  

It would be lined with books. There would be a large, uncluttered (for a while at least) desk with a computer, a printer, a radio, and quiet.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I could not find an agent, and I wanted to get my books “out there” before I died.  Publishing with the few remaining large publishers can take up to two or more years.
You published with OutskirtsPress, who caters to self-published authors. Are you happy with your decision?

I published Letters from the Dead with OutskirtsPress because it allowed me to keep the price of the book down for readers. I was disappointed, however, in their use of a small font in printing the book. I found Xlibris, who published my first two novels, Blood Brothers and Collateral Consequences, did an excellent job of printing, but the cost for readers, I felt, was too high.

What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do? Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?

I did the first book all on my own, but had the second and third novel covers designed by the publisher.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?  

“Things fade, alternatives exclude.”

What’s your favorite candy bar? And don’t tell me you don’t have one!  

Chuckles and jelly beans.

Tis the season for jelly beans. I get in trouble with those little bitty beans. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? 

Talk with my wife, visit my grandchildren, watch my favorite TV shows (NCIS, Blacklist, Blue Bloods, Castle), and play a lousy game of golf.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?  

Where I am. As a former student once told me, “No matter where you are, that’s the place to be.”

What are you working on now?  

Another mystery/thriller with the same characters tentatively called Random Acts of Malice, involving a plot to kill a judge.

Good luck with it, George, and please come back when it's released to tell us more!

Let's Talk Writing Interview

Excerpt from Letters from the Dead

We lay aside letters never to read them again,
and at last we destroy them out of discretion,
and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life,
irrecoverably for ourselves and for others.


Chapter 1

Mary Jane MacIntyre lay in her bed fingering her rosary beads. She looked down at her hands as she started the first decade of the Sorrowful Mysteries – the Agony in the Garden. Her fingers were bent and twisted by arthritis. She looked at the brown spots and wrinkled skin on the backs of her hands. And her mind began to wander.

    “Peggy, you’ve got to tell the police….”

     Tears rolled down Margaret’s cheeks. Her hands and voice trembled. “I can’t, Mary Jane. He’ll kill me. You don’t know what he’s like.”

    “You can’t let him do this to you, Peggy. You can’t let him get away with this.”

    Like a sheet of newspaper caught in the wind, the voices within her skipped from place to place as another voice within voiced a series of Hail Marys.    

She lifted her eyes to see the black and white picture of three young people framed in a faded leather frame on her night table. She didn’t need her reading glasses to recognize the three standing, smiling on the sandy beach of Coney Island. He stood in the middle with one arm around each girl. He was tall and thin, and his dark hair was ruffled. Both girls were laughing. One wore what looked like a short shirt with two thin bands running around the bust and the bottom. The other wore a sleeveless dark woolen jersey tank suit that clung tighter to her body with a light belt around the waist. The bathing suit was actually navy blue and the belt white rubber, Mary Jane remembered.

    The words of the prayer in the background peeped in again as she started the second Sorrowful Mystery. “… lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil….”

    She was the only one left now. They had gone. He first, then she. Mary Jane was the only one left now - the only one who knew.

    The door to her room opened a bit as a nurse looked in. Ms. MacIntyre was saying her rosary again as she did every day. The nurse decided not to interrupt her reverie. She would come back later.

Mary Jane heard the door open and close. Her ears had not lost what her legs, hands, and eyes had. She may be old, but she still could hear. Sometimes, as she continued to pray the rosary and try to concentrate on the second Sorrowful Mystery – the Scourging at the Pillar, the voices of her past were as clear as the opening of the door.

“Yeah, and what are you going to do about it?” The voice was gruff and loud with a slight touch of a coarse Irish brogue. She heard the thud again as he punched her in the chest and threw her against the car. “You mind your own bloody business, you little whore, or I’ll do the same to you.”

“I hope you die,” the young woman’s voice replied. She saw herself running down the street screaming, “I hope you die. I hope you die….”

She heard his laugh again. Its icy tone sent shivers through her body. Howling like a madman, he lifted his flask of Bushmills and shouted, “Not before I take your little sister with me.”

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners....” Mary Jane’s eyes moved to her end table where she kept the letters. No one seemed to write letters very much anymore. At least she never got any. But who was left to send her any? The letters in the drawer were sacred to her. They held a secret she had kept buried within her for a long time. Maybe too long. Soon it would be her time. Should she tell someone? What good would come of it now?

On the wall by the side of the window, the MacIntyre coat of arms hung, another remembrance of the past, a gift her father had given her on her twelfth birthday. She recalled his stories about the ancient MacIntyre clan and how one of its earliest lords cut off his thumb to plug a hole in a sinking ship. He regaled her with stories as she sat in his lap at the kitchen table in their fourth floor railroad apartment and he drank his Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and told her about how the MacIntyre family was a proud clan of warriors and poets that survived battles and adversity. How many times had he made her shout with him, the MacIntyre war cry, “Cruachan”?

Her eyes could just make out the two red eagles with outstretched wings, the ship with furled sails, the red fist clutching a cross, and the hand with a dagger protruding from a knight’s helmet on the family crest. She couldn’t see the family motto from where she lay, but she knew it by heart – “Per ardua” – through difficulties. Life had been a series of difficulties, yet here she was – the only one of the group left with a secret buried in the letters which pressed on her heart.

It was time to let go. But she had to tell someone before she left. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

About the author:

George Hopkins, a former United States Marine Corps sergeant, has worked as an assistant principal of English in the NYC public high schools and has taught at Columbia Teachers’ College, St. John’s University, Middlesex College, and the College of Staten Island, in addition to being an exchange teacher in Puerto Rico. Twice he was honored by the NY Association of Teachers as “Teacher of the Year.” This novel is his third mystery featuring Detective Cavanaugh and Fr. Bennis. Both previous novels, Blood Brothers and Collateral Consequences, are award-winners and are available online.

Connect with George:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads| Venture Galleries

Buy the book: