Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Author: Janis Thornton

About the book:

When it comes to murder, forget the butler . . . it’s the housekeeper who knows where the bodies are buried.

Small-town newspaper editor Crystal Cropper never takes “no” for an answer, hates to be called a “senior citizen,” and uses the power of her pen to expose corruption in her small town.

Cleaning lady Gertie has a knack for sweeping skeletons out of closets—which makes her one of Crystal’s best informants. But Gertie’s latest hot tip has landed her in a coma, courtesy of an unknown assailant.

Now Crystal must follow the trail of dirt and gossip right to the doorsteps of several prominent local families to solve a decade-old murder and the disappearance of a young boy . . .

Interview with Janis Thornton

Janis, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
Growing up, I was an only child and tended to make up little stories to entertain myself. I wrote poetry, too, and when I was 12 and 13, a national anthology of poetry by junior high students included my poems two years in a row. After that great start, it was 40 years before my next publishing credit. But...I’ve come a long way since my “Easter bonnets straight and tall, some are round and some are small” poem appeared in that anthology.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies was the stroke of genius of the editorial team at PageSpring Publishing. They felt this title represented the fun that readers could expect. My original title, Elmwood Confidential, is now the name for the series, which Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies is starting.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
Yes, besides writing, I am a freelance personal historian and a part-time “doer of whatever needs doing” for a couple of great guys who are producing a new graphic novel series. Mainly, I do their graphic design projects, marketing, P.R., and run their graphic novel art museum.

How would you describe your book in five words?
Golden Girls meet Jessica Fletcher.

How did you create the plot for Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies?

When I first began this project, all I had were the Crystal, Gertie, and Verlin characters, the small-town setting, and a vague inkling of a story about a 20-year-old unsolved murder. I wish I could say I sat down one evening and plotted the whole thing out, but that’s not how it worked. It actually was a long process of “write, delete, cry, repeat” before a doable storyline started to float to the top. During that time, reports about high school and college football coaches’ abuse of power were headlining the national news, and I decided to use that for the crux of the mystery. Once I had that element in place, the rest of the story came together organically.

What’s your favorite line from a book?
There is a lovely, short paragraph near the end of one of my most treasured books, Elizabeth Berg’s Talk Before Sleep, that always touches me. Here, the main character, Ann, tells the reader how she imagines the recent passing of her dearest friend, Ruth, who was a victim of breast cancer.

“I like to think that she looked out the window one last time the night she died and saw with a new understanding the placement of the stars. I like to think something incomprehensibly vast and complex moved into her soul at that moment, and that it, not pathology, was what took her breath away.”

That is wonderful! Tell us a book you’re an evangelist for.

As preparation for an interview I conducted this summer with author William Kent Krueger, I read his current best-selling book, Ordinary Grace, which had won numerous awards over the past few months. Before I reached the end of the prologue, the voice of the narrator, a 12-year-old boy, had hooked me, and I ate the book up. It’s a beautifully written story that seamlessly weaves together mystery, adventure, family, love, joy, loss, grief, and spirituality. In my opinion, it’s a magnificent book, and I can’t stop recommending it.  

What would your main character say about you?
Crystal Cropper would obviously say she owes everything she is and ever hopes to become to me. She might also say she wishes I would learn to cook so she could prepare herself a nutritious dinner that has nothing to do with nuking a frozen mystery casserole.

Are you like any of your characters?
I suspect Crystal and I are twins separated at birth (assuming it’s possible to be a fictional character’s twin) because we have so much in common. For example, she’s a blonde, Boomer-aged newspaper editor, and I’m a blonde, Baby Boomer-aged former newspaper editor; we like living alone, we hate to cook, we make jokes at inappropriate times, and we go crazy when someone refers to us as “seniors.” Where we differ is in the way we handle ourselves in the face of danger. I skulk away, while Crystal steels her nerve and jumps right in. I had great fun writing as Crystal and living vicariously through her. At times, she exemplified some facet of my actual life experience; other times she portrayed attitudes, actions, knowledge, courage, and skills that I’m too shy to exhibit.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
Because I infused my main character, Crystal, with an unfiltered penchant for wisecracking, sarcasm and self-deprecation, my favorite scene shines a light on her vulnerable side, which she rarely reveals. The setting is Gertie’s hospital room, where Gertie lies in a coma after an intruder knocked her unconscious. Crystal pays a visit and, feeling uncomfortable in the presence of a comatose Gertie and not knowing what to do, she starts a one-sided conversation. To me, it’s bittersweet because I drew from my own experience with my dad, who was hospitalized several times before he passed away, and I tried to have Crystal project some of the emotions I felt.

You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?
Without hesitation, I would choose Meryl Streep. If the sky’s the limit, why not pick the brightest star?

I agree. Your last meal would be...
A Chinese chicken salad from Chin-Chin’s of Studio City, California (it’s to die for!) … and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Jamaican Me Crazy sorbet.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I am a huge movie fan and usually go a couple times a month. I also love theater, roaming through museums, hanging out with my son, Matt, Goodwill shopping, and taking road trips.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I’ve not yet discovered my dream home, but I would like to try Booth Bay Harbor, Maine; Estes Park, Colorado; and Florence, Italy, for an extended stay to see if any of them feels like a good fit.

What are you working on now?

Writing-wise, I am in the early stages of plotting and writing Book 2 of my Elmwood Confidential series, I’m a third of the way through a local history book, and I’m polishing a completed a paranormal romantic-mystery. My non-writing work includes piecing together my family history, designing the first trade paperback for a graphic novel series, helping the Midwest Writers Workshop Committee plan the 2015 conference, and cleaning out the attic.

Excerpt from Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies

Chapter 1

Funny where your mind goes when you’re staring into the face of mortal danger. The night I stepped through Gertie Tyroo’s dark back door, uninvited and all alone, my mind conjured up an old movie, starring me as the classic damsel in distress—fragile, frazzled, and befuddled, desperate for a white knight to gallop in on horseback and rescue me.

Crystal Cropper, I thought, revolted by the helpless self-image, you are pathetic! You don’t need a white knight. You’re your own white knight. Now get on with it. And get on with it I did. Without further hesitation, I drew a deep breath and called out, “Gertie! It’s me, Crystal. You okay?” That’s when the living room light went out, somebody screamed, and all hell broke loose.

Rapid-fire footsteps scurried toward me through the opaque darkness, prompting my Ladies Kick Ass training to kick in. I stiffened in a defensive stance—feet fixed at forty-five degree angles, knees bent, one hand clamped around my can of mace, the other poised to strike a crippling blow. I thought I was ready to rock ’n’ roll, but I was quickly proved wrong when a solid shoulder slammed into my chest. It bulldozed me toward the open doorway and knocked the mace from my grip. I screamed “Noooo!” and swung my right fist, hoping it would connect with the assailant’s face. Yes! My knuckles delivered a solid blow, and my attacker mewled weakly. Invigorated, I pressed on, determined to further stun my assailant with a head butt to the chin. Unfortunately, the plan was stopped when two strong hands grabbed my upper arms and shoved me with a force that dislodged my hairpins. As my topknot unfurled, the thug grabbed a handful of my hair and yanked me out the door. Before I could rebound, I found myself tumbling down the back steps and onto the patio, where I landed hard on my left butt cheek, winded and dazed.

The intruder took my temporary incapacitation as an exit cue and bolted through the carport. My fears for Gertie pushed me up the steps and into the dark house. I groped the walls for a light switch, found one in the kitchen and flipped it on. An overhead fluorescent halo flickered to life, spilling light through the doorway to the front room. “Gertie!” I called again. “Where are you?” Still no answer.

Thinking I might catch a glimpse of the fleeing intruder, I rushed for the front door. But as I rounded Gertie’s sofa, I stubbed my foot on something large and doughy in my path. I nearly tripped and was set to give what-for to the poorly placed object, expecting maybe a hassock. But. Oh. My. God. It was Gertie.

The squeal of spinning tires resonated from the street, followed by the grinding roar of a souped-up engine. I scrambled for the front door, but my attempt to throw it open was stymied by the deadbolt. The louder the rumbling, the more my tangled fingers floundered over the stubborn lock. Finally disengaging the bolt, I threw open the door and dashed onto the sun porch as a light-colored pickup truck rocketed past. Although I hadn’t been able to read the license plate, I took note of the truck’s taillights—the left one was red, the right one orange.

With precious time wasting, I rushed back to Gertie. She was sprawled on her left side, wrapped tightly in her leopard-print coat. Her left arm extended unbent in alignment with her body and her hand rested on her tattered wool scarf. Her right arm jutted out before her at a ninety-degree angle gripping the strap of her straw handbag.

I grabbed a pillow and tucked it under her head. That’s when I discovered the blood soaking into the carpet. Its source was a deep wound on the back of her skull. I unbuttoned her coat and gently probed for her carotid artery with my fingertips. She had a pulse. It was weak, but it was there.

A table lamp lay on the floor within arm’s length. I set it upright and clicked it on. The room was chaos. The phone was off the hook and bleeping incessantly. I picked it up, tapped its plunger to get a dial tone, and punched 9–1–1.

About Janis:

Janis Thornton is a freelance writer, personal historian, and award-winning journalist. She is the author of two local history books, Images of America: Tipton County and Images of America: Frankfort. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Indiana Writers Center, Association of Personal Historians, and the Midwest Writers Workshop Planning Committee. She lives in a small Indiana town not unlike Elmwood. Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies is her debut cozy mystery.

Connect with Janis:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Buy the book:
Amazon | Kobo

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Author: Connie Smith

Connie Smith was here last year with book one of her young adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy series, The Division Chronicles: Essenced, and she was here in February with book two, Emblazed. I'm happy to have Connie back today to talk about Enscrolled (The Division Chronicles: Book Three).

About the book:

In the aftermath of the latest battle, the stakes are higher than ever before, time hardly an ally to Nicholai’s army of paranormal soldiers. The Tomes remain hidden, and the clock is ticking for the Essenced tainted with the demon’s incurable toxin. And beyond those worries, reason exists to suspect that magic might be vanishing, a twist that could insurmountably cripple the army’s capabilities prior to the war’s conclusion.

Never has the conflict felt quite as desperate, danger escalating and hope lessening with the slow drain of each issue’s hourglass.

Will the answers to these dilemmas surface in time, or will the efforts of the band of warriors fail to prevent the ruin of the world?

Interview with Connie Smith:

How long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I started writing song lyrics when I was a kid, but they were pretty plagiarized. Hey, I was a kid :) Other than that, I’ve been writing short stories and such through the years, even if it was for academic purposes, all the while keeping my distance from writing a full fiction book because the idea of it seemed so daunting. A couple of years ago, I decided to try my hand at it...and failed. That particular book is still unfinished, but less than a year later, I’d jumped into this Division Chronicles business. It’s been a big part of my life since.

What’s the story behind the title of your book?
I wanted it to follow the same pattern as the other two books of the series – one word that begins with “e” and ends with “ed.” That narrowed down my options, but it worked out, even if “enscrolled” is kind of a non-word. Part of the plot for this book is the search for angelic records to end a demonic war, so the notion of a “scroll” was fitting. In the end, it seemed the best option.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I’m a graduate student, slowly preparing myself to be able to teach courses somewhere.

How do you get to know your characters?
These characters, for the most part, were shaped around their essences. What I mean by that is that the teenagers recruited to fight the demonic war have within them the essences of specific mythical creatures. AJ, for instance, is Werewolf-Essenced. Those essences bring to life powers – and quirky side effects. In a lot of ways, those aspects were the beginnings of these characters, and I kind of went from there.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?
Soo many of them were fun, mostly because of those side effects. There’s a thieving Dragon-Essenced, a balding Thunderbird-Essenced, a girl-crazy Incubus-Essenced… There was a lot of room for humor in these books!

What would your main character say about you?
That I’m a cruel, cruel person for making her fall for Julius :)

Are any of your characters inspired by real people? 
Not really, no, but certain things do sometimes find ways into my stories. As an example, I have a friend (former college roommate) who was a fan of Wheel of Fortune, and there’s a character in the story who has that same interest.

Is your book based on real events?
I really, really hope not :)

Are you like any of your characters?
I can relate to Bree quite a bit because she suffers from a substantial case of small man syndrome. I’m teeny, too, so yeah...

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?
Most of these characters have super powers and magically enhanced weapons. I’d be dead, quick, if I had to go against them one-on-one.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?
Lexia! She’s Fairy-Essenced! She has wings!

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

Jack, the Anateus-Essenced alpha, is a pretty big fan of books, so he’s the one who comes to mind. Although it would be interesting, having to keep Isaac from stealing everything...

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

Probably just some friends. Or Sebastian Stan. He’s hot.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
My favorite scene in the entire trilogy happens in this book! I won’t give too many details, but it may or may not involve a Rembrandt painting :)

What song would you pick to go with your book?
I’m using a soundtrack for a different blog post! For the whole trilogy, I’d probably pick “Countdown to Extinction” by Megadeth, but for this particular book, I’d most likely go with “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi. Can you tell that I like 80s rock?

Who are your favorite authors?

Recca Fitzpatrick has become a pretty big favorite of mine. I love her Hush, Hush books, and Patch is my number one book boyfriend.

You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?
Christopher Walken? Kermit the Frog?

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
Nothing! How sad is that??? I’ve been working to get all of this Enscrolled business ready! But one of my more recent reads was How to Date a Nerd by Cassie Mae in ebook form. I was impressed enough to buy How to Seduce a Band Geek by her, which I’ll *eventually* *hopefully* get around to reading at some point.

What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
I hate it when dialogue doesn’t sound like dialogue. I get that some characters sound really refined, but not all of them. Don’t make your fifteen-year-old sound like a sophisticated narrator. It’s annoying to me.

Do you have a routine for writing?
I usually just sit on my bed, fan running to drown out noise, and type. Boring, right? I might have a vague outline for the story, but I do go off the schedule at points.

Where’s home for you?
Harlan, Kentucky. My parents moved around a lot when I was a kid, but that’s the place I consider home – without question :)

Do you know Raylan Givens? Just kidding. You’re leaving your country for a year. What’s the last meal (or food) you would want to have before leaving?My mama’s chili. It’s amaaaaaaaaaazing.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?


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

Can I count Belle’s? Sooo many books!

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

Rogue! The cartoon one. Not the movie one. Because that was Jubilee...

What’s your favorite candy bar?
Butterfinger :)

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read, bake, watch TV shows I’m obsessed with...

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I’ll stick with Kentucky!

What are you working on now?
Besides all of these Enscrolled details, I plan to publish a NA Romance called Tail Lights in November of this year. So yeah. That’s on my soon-to-come agenda :)

Excerpt from Enscrolled

McKenna watched him leave before refocusing on Johnny, confused at the expression her boyfriend wore. “What are you smirking at?”

    He shrugged. “I’m just not sure how this could be such a bad memory. My girl glued to my side.” Wiggling his eyebrows, he continued. “Playing nurse…”

    “Well, you are poisoned,” she deadpanned. “That puts a damper on these types of situations for most people.”

    “Oh, you’re serious again.” His smirk broadened. “Are you gonna yell at me like you did when my leg was broken? That was attractive…”

    Though she fought against it, her smile emerged, spreading over her lips as she shook her head. “You’re impossible. You know that?”

    “Nah. I just learned along the way how to make my girl smile.”

    Her grin lingered until her attention descended to his leg, the spot of the poison’s initial contact. Then she frowned, her eyes filling with tears and her hands beginning to tremble. Just ten days, she thought.

    “Hey.” Johnny cupped her face, gentling bringing her gaze to lock with his. “We’re not gonna think about that because that’s gonna get taken care of.” Tobias again entered the medical room, moving directly to the corner reserved for the cure’s research to recommence his work. “See?” Johnny nodded his head toward the angel. “Look how dedicated he is to finding this. Think of all the soldiers around us who are perfectly capable of getting whatever weird ingredients he comes up with. If you do, ten days will seem like a lifetime, because it’s plenty of time.”

    And then she was the one smirking. “That’s quite optimistic.”

    He laughed, shrugging. “I told you that you’re rubbing off on me.”

    “And you’re trusting others. Like you finally flipped a switch.”

    “It isn’t like flipping a switch.” He smiled, revisiting the lecture she’d given him while stranded on a cliff. “It’s like deciding not to be in the darkness anymore. You take steps, and the light comes a little at a time until the darkness is gone.”

    She quirked an eyebrow, chuckling. “That seems vaguely familiar.”

    “Someone really smart once told me that.” Pulling her closer, he tapped the tip of her nose with his finger. “She was really hot, too.”

About the author:

Connie L. Smith spends far too much time with her mind wandering in fictional places. She reads too much, likes to bake, and might forever be sad that she doesn’t have fairy wings. And that she can’t swing dance. Her music of choice is severely outdated, and as an adult she’s kind of obsessed with Power Rangers. She has her BA from Northern Kentucky University in Speech Communication and History (she doesn’t totally get the connection either), and is currently working on her MA.

Connect with Connie:
Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Readwave

Buy the book:
Amazon | Amazon author page

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Cover Reveal: Leap Into the Knight

About the book:

Sir Darius Lee is a Knight of the High Order.

But when Darius discovers a stranger in his room in the middle of the night, and the intruder turns out to be a beautiful woman, he begins to question how he is meant to live his life.

Princess Megan of Bethyea is being held captive.

But when two knights help her to escape and bring her back to her home planet, she finds the home she knew no longer exists.

When The Council of Twelve questions Darius about his relationship with Maggie, she tries to flee from The Academy of the High Order to prevent him from losing his knighthood.

Will Darius and Orion find Maggie before she leaves Albion? And if they do, how can they face the decision of The Council? And what about the feelings Orion has developed for the princess?

From the author:

I was born in Overland Park, Kansas, grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, went to school at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and moved to Bloomington, Illinois fresh out of college.  I worked as a high school/junior college teacher, personnel recruiter, office manager of a jewelry store, and, for the past ten years, as a lunch lady. I  like to karaoke and attend rock concerts. I’m also actively involved at church and spend too much time on Facebook. I am  the mother of a seventeen-year-old, fifteen-year-old triplets, and have been married to my husband, Don, for over twenty-four years.

I have been a writer all my life. My first book, which was co-written with Mary Ellen Murphey in second grade, was titled The Black Cat, and was written on blue hotel stationary, hole-punched, and bound by white yarn.  I believe it is currently out of circulation.

When I turned forty, I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized those bigwig publishing houses in New York were now probably run by people younger than me, so I shouldn’t be intimidated by them. At about the same time, I was watching one of those award shows, and Jaclyn Smith got up to give a posthumous award to Aaron Spelling. She credited him for encouraging her to go into acting, saying something brilliant like, “Reach for your dreams.” Nothing new.  Almost even seems a little Jiminy Cricketish.  But, for some reason, it struck me that night.  When Aaron Spelling was thirteen, he was probably just like any other acned thirteen-year-old. But he worked to achieve his dreams, and became a household name. So, I  began to write. Once I finished my first book,I wasn’t able to stop. I would rather write than do just about anything else. After all, I get to make people (characters) do what I want, and design their happy endings. What power! And what a  privilege.

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


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Conditions by Christoph Fischer

Would your grandmother like this book?

I’d like to think so. There is one scene where characters talk about sex, but my grandmother was quite liberal and very supportive of her grandchildren. I think the book can appeal to all age groups. We all have family and we all know people who are different.

What is your elevator pitch?

A book about two estranged brothers and an inheritance dispute set at their mother’s funeral. The book features a variety of odd and colourful characters, all with their own problems. The funeral and the wake serve as catalyst for some of them, group dynamics and individual qualities show a range of options how to deal with difficult situations and human conditions.

How did you come up with the plot for Conditions?

The book is inspired by one specific funeral that I attended and my speculations as to why family relations had broken down so dramatically. The UK has a different legal and underlying moral system to that of Germany when it comes to inheritance and that gave me further ideas for the plot. 

How is this book different from other books in this genre?
I have scole here today to introduke my newbold booklode. I am assureme that all peoplode will amusit and appreciho this fine piece of worklode which is the resulty of manifold hours of thorcus on my partylode with a fewbold modes taken off for the tilty elbow and drinkit down the throacus.
With kindi regardibolds, huggi-huggis and, of horselode - deep joy.       
Goodly byelode

Why is your book cool?
Because I kept it in the freezer for the last four years.

About the book:

When Charles and Tony's mother dies the estranged brothers must struggle to pick up the pieces, particularly so given that one of them is mentally challenged and the other bitter about his place within the family. 
The conflict is drawn out over materialistic issues, but there are other underlying problems which go to the heart of what it means to be part of a family which, in one way or another. has cast one aside.

Prejudice, misconceptions and the human condition in all forms feature in this contemporary drama revolving around a group of people who attend the subsequent funeral at the British South Coast. 
Meet flamboyant gardener Charles, loner Simon, selfless psychic Elaine, narcissistic body-builder Edgar, Martha and her version of unconditional love and many others as they try to deal with the event and its aftermath.

About the author:

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years 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. The Luck of The Weissensteiners was published in November 2012; Sebastian in May 2013 and The Black Eagle Inn in October 2013. In May 2014 he published his first contemporary novel Time To Let Go. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalization.

Connect with Christoph:
Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Linkedin | Amazon author page

Buy his books:
Conditions | The Luck of the Weissensteiners | The Black Eagle Inn
Time to let Go

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Guest Post by Julie Anne Lindsey

"Copyright © 2014 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited
® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its
affiliated companies, used under license."

About the book:

With the chaos of summer tourists and fall birders out of town, counselor Patience Price is looking forward to the quiet life she remembers. She longs for some peace. And an apple fritter. But the calm is cut short when a reality show sets up camp to film a special about ghosts on her little island. Now fans, reporters and crew have flocked to sleepy Chincoteague. Who knew ghost hunters had an entourage?

When two cast members are killed in a room at the local B&B—a room usually occupied by Patience's FBI agent boyfriend, Sebastian—she finds herself on the case. Sebastian doesn't want Patience ruffling any feathers but, as always, she can't help herself.

Patience promises to let Sebastian handle the investigation—he is FBI, after all—but after a drive-by shooting, her wicked curiosity gets the best of her. And with the TV show forging ahead with filming, the list of suspects (and the line of food trucks) only grows. But has the shooter already flown the coop? And how do you find a killer when you don't know who the target is?

An Island of Inspiration

by Julie Anne Lindsey

In 2008 I visited Chincoteague, Virginia. Until that year, I didn’t even know Virginia had an island. I’d lived on the East Coast my entire life, clueless. There was an island? I had to see that! So, my family vacationed there for a week and the place has courted my soul ever since. I knew before we arrived. I wouldn’t want to leave. I didn’t. I can remember how it sounded and smelled and buzzed in my system. It was like going home. Except I live in Ohio.

If you’ve never been to Chincoteague, it’s a quintessential coastal town surrounded by harbors and the Atlantic. An old fashioned drawbridge separates the island from the world. The drawbridge might as well be a cone of silence because mainland worries seem to splinter and stop before reaching the tiny community.

The town library is in a quaint little building across the street from a Misty of Chincoteague statue. The local ice cream parlor has a wall of faces who’ve finished the biggest sundae in town. The theatre is one of those small town, two show wonders. Life moves slower. People are kinder. The island measures 3x7 miles small. It bustles with fishermen, craftsmen and people who crave the sea. If that isn’t enough to get you packing your bags (or in my place firing up my laptop) did you know Chincoteague is attached to a sister island, Assateague? Assateague is even smaller than Chincoteague, united by a bridge over a marsh, and home to wildlife. Assateague is a national forest and shoreline. The beaches are pristine. The forest has wild ponies. Did you stop and reread that? Wild. Ponies. There are trails and nature centers and historical lighthouses. I mean. *jaw drop* Where has this place been my whole life? And why can’t I move immediately?

I visited Chincoteague four years before it occurred to me I could write anything longer than a grocery list, but the town burrowed into my heart and has since occupied my daydreams. Chincoteague is now home to my heroine, Patience Price, and The Patience Price Mysteries series I wrote for Carina Press. Patience adores her hometown as much as I do. Writing the series on this island has been a real gift. I’ve loved telling readers about the unfathomably gorgeous sunrises over the harbor and the bleating tug boats already busy at work. I need to tell other in-landers how hilarious and borderline dangerous it is to grill out because gulls line the roofs waiting for dinner to be served. Oh, and I’m terrified of horses, so rounding a corner and coming nose to nose with a wandering pony was a real heart stopping concern for me because I walked everywhere. Who needs a car when nothing is more than a few blocks away? For me, the island was magical. Perfection.

Book one in my mystery series, Murder by the Seaside, flowed easily from vivid memories of that trip. I could literally envision every detail. But then I needed a sequel. I needed a new problem for my heroine. I love the island so much, it was tough to think of a problem and then I wondered, “What kind of things could cause a ruckus on such a peaceful island.” Guess what? I watched a movie that night with Steve Martin and Jack Black. Do you know it? The Big Year? It’s a movie about birders who travel the globe hoping to see the greatest number of different species of birds. You know what island has a ton of awesome birds? *nods* Yep. *steeples fingertips* If a few busloads of birders all rushed to the island to see the same rare bird, it could get kind of full out there. *taps chin* Birders seemed like a great addition to the problems my amateur sleuth already had on her plate, what with work, a new boyfriend, an ex who won’t go away (and he has a dimple). Life. Work. Family. Oh, and a murder. Birders were exactly what she needed to lose her tenuous cool.
So, I sent them.

This time around, I needed something bigger to push my heroine to her limits. You know what drives me batty? Reality television. What if a reality show set up shop on her island? What if one of the “celebrities” was murdered? Ohhhh, I loved that idea. Fans and reporters and gawkers galore would come from everywhere to get a look at the cast and crew, leave a memento at the crime scene or bask in the unfolding drama. You know what else would come along? Food trucks. I love food trucks. We don’t have any in my town, so when I travel and they’re lined up somewhere, I make a quick detour to take advantage of the gourmet delights. Food trucks would make my heroine’s eye twitch. So, I sent a herd her way. I’m ornery like that. 

For me, The Patience Price Mysteries are all about taking the bland and making it grand. I twist and stretch the mundane we all relate to and make it a source of endless frustration for my heroine. Her friends are the best. Her parents are nutty. Her love interests are handsome, fearless and sweet. Everything’s better on the island and hopefully, the murders have enough twists to keep readers guessing. If you’re ready for a reprieve from the everyday, I hope you’ll consider one of my mysteries. More than that, I hope they will make you smile.

About Julie:

Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.

Murder in Real Time is the conclusion to The Patience Price Mysteries series, from Carina Press.

Connect with Julie:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Carina Press

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Featured Author: Denise Moncrief

About the book:

Tess Copeland lives a quiet life in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Thanks to the government’s witness protection program, she enjoys the freedom of never having to glance over her shoulder to see if someone is following her. Life has become safe, serene...and boring. Her heart longs for something more than just existing...until a ghost from her past shatters her serenity.

Once upon a time, Tess was caught between the FBI and the men the feds were trying to take down. Jake Coleman is the U.S. Marshal who extracted her from the jam she was in with the FBI, a man she could have fallen for...hard...if she had let herself. It’s been a year since she last saw Jake, and in all the months that have passed, he’s never tried to find her. The longer he keeps his distance, the more she wonders why his absence hurts so much.

When a stranger comes to town searching for her, all of Tess’ old fears are resurrected. Asking Jake for help with her current crisis might lure him into a dangerous trap involving murder, kidnapping, and revenge. When Jake and Tess come face-to-face with the past, they will have to use all their wits to survive.

Interview with Denise Moncrief

Denise, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I’ve been writing off and on since I was in my late teens. That’s a lot of years ago. My first “novel” was only seventeen handwritten pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last Harlequin romance I’d read. I didn’t start writing with the goal of publication until about ten or eleven years ago. I have a very active imagination, and I could imagine myself other places, with other people, living a different life. Well, as you can imagine that might not be very healthy. One day I realized I could channel all that creativity into a much healthier activity by writing instead of daydreaming.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I graduated from LSU with a degree in accounting. This has given me some nice skills to earn a little money to support my writing habit. My so-called day job is as an accountant with a local CPA firm. Accounting is NOT my passion. Honestly, I don’t understand anyone whose passion IS accounting. If I can’t write, I might as well not breathe.

How did you create the plot for this book?
Crisis of Serenity is the second book in the two-part Crisis series. The book picks up about a year or so after Crisis of Identity leaves off. I’d left pour Tess with a lot of dangling loose ends in her life, and I felt she needed some resolution to some of the many crises she had faced in Identity. In Crisis of Identity, she rode off into the sunset with Trevor, and deep down in my heart, I knew that relationship would never work, so I had to finish her story, give her some closure, and get her with the right man.

What’s your favorite line from a book?
I love the opening line from Gone With the Wind. “Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” It summed up her character with the first few words of the book.

How do you get to know your characters?
I live with them. No, seriously. I talk about them as if they are real. When I’m in the store, I’ll tell my daughter that is something one of my characters would wear. Or when I hear something one of them would say I comment on it. I picture them eating across the table from me. Riding in the car with me. Sometimes, they follow me to my day job. That is never a good thing. I wonder what they would do if someone said this or that to them. When one of them is in the middle of a situation and I don’t know what to do with them, I close my eyes and imagine I’m that character. Maybe it’s sort of like method acting. Would you call that method writing?

Which character did you most enjoy writing?
All of the characters I’ve ever written, I’ve enjoyed Tess the most. She says things I wouldn’t have the guts to say and does things I would never try. She has more spunk and sass than anyone I’ve ever known. I’ll never have the adventures she has had.

What song would you pick to go with your book?
There are actually two songs that resonate with me when I think about this book and Crisis of Identity, the first book in the two-part series. “Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane and “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins.

Who are your favorite authors?

Right now, I’m really into paranormal romantic suspense. I’m reading through Heather Graham’s Krewe Of Hunters series. I’ve become a fan very quickly. For a fast-paced, delicious romantic suspense novel, I love indie author Chantel Rhondeau, especially her Agents in Love series.

There are some writing techniques (or mistakes) that stand out to me when I read (e.g. when an author switches POV mid-scene). What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
I’m with you on the head hopping. Nothing bugs me more, and I think it’s because one of my first rejections from a publisher mentioned my horrendous head hopping. It glitches the smooth flow of the narrative and slows the pace of the story if the reader has to figure out whose head she’s in every time the POV switches. I’ve worked hard to break that habit. So I’m very conscious of it when I find it in someone else’s writing. The hardest thing about being a writer and an editor when I read other people’s work is to avoid the impulse to edit while I read.

I totally agree. 
Do you have a routine for writing?
I am a certified pantser. I know where the story begins, and I know where I want it to end. I probably have the first mushy love scene in my head already, but in the middle, I usually let my characters decide where they want to go and what they want to do. I’ll write a few chapters and then go back and reread them, making revisions as I read through it again. Some writers call that procrastination and strongly discourage it, but I’ve found this method works for me. It helps me keep the characters in character and the plot line consistent, but mostly it grounds me for the next spurt of writing.

You’re leaving your country for a year. What’s the last meal (or food) you would want to have before leaving?
Tex-Mex without a doubt. I could eat it three times a day, seven days a week, but of course I cannot. Too many carbs for a diabetic, not to mention the amount of pounds I’d put on. I’ve found that even when I travel in the United States, no other place does Tex-Mex quite like we do here at home. I’d miss my favorite local Tex-Mex restaurant. When I returned, that would be the first place I went.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?
I love to go shopping in Dallas with my daughter. Not so much for the buying but for the time we spend together. It’s something we both like to do and it gives us some mother-daughter time. One of the best experiences I’ve had lately was shopping with her for her wedding gown. I know we won’t get as many chances to do things like this once she’s married, so I’m treasuring every single moment of it now.

What’s your favorite candy bar? And don’t tell me you don’t have one!
Who doesn’t have a favorite candy bar? I can’t decide between Snickers and Baby Ruth. In fact, one of the characters in my Haunted Hearts series is so fond of Baby Ruth bars that she’ll trade information for a King Size bar.

That's hilarious. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Colorado. My mom used to show me picture albums of a trip she and my father took before I was born. We went through those pictures a lot, dreaming of taking a trip to the mountains. When our family finally did take a road trip to Colorado, the Rockies did not let me down. I’ve been back many, many times since I’ve grown up. I’d move right now if my husband and I weren’t tied to our jobs here. I love it so much I set my Colorado series in southwestern Colorado.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on the second book in my paranormal romantic suspense series, Haunted Hearts. Victoria House is set in the same fictional county in Arkansas as the first book in the series, Laurel Heights. And of course, there is a ghost, a cop, and a woman who wants the ghost in her house to settle down and let her live in peace...with the cop.

Excerpt from  Crisis of Serenity

The late afternoon sun warmed my face as I trudged down the street toward the trolley stop. The atmosphere held the pleasant promise of fall and color. I arrived in Tennessee last year just as the trees were turning gold, crimson, orange, and yellow, a gorgeous autumn. I hadn’t yet had the chance to indulge in a trip into the mountains, something I longed to do, but I didn’t own a car. That’s why I had to bum a ride to work every morning. The trolley didn’t start running until eight, sometimes ten, depending on what time of year it was.

Autumn had turned to a hard winter last year. The necessities of settling into a new life had consumed my waking moments until the first hard freeze. The ground had frozen and so had my heart. That’s when my thoughts had turned toward Trevor again. Snowbound landscapes always reminded me of him. His memory heated my core, and I wished with all my heart he hadn’t left me cold.

I missed him, missed him like crazy. As good as I was at running, he was even better at leaving. The last time was more than I could take, and I’d asked my handler to move me out of Arizona. No, more like begged him to send me somewhere else—anywhere Trevor would have a hard time finding me.

We were no good for each other.

I’d had too many men in my life tell me they cared only to take what they wanted and then leave me with nothing but loneliness and pain. My relationship with Trevor had developed so fast, and I had assumed he was no different than any other man.

I was wrong.

He was different, but his differences were not enough to keep him by my side when he had the urge to indulge in adventure wherever he could find it. He was a private investigator, a bounty hunter, and a solver of mysteries, and he couldn’t be tied to one spot too long. When I first went into witness protection, he stayed three months with me in Tucson and then one night he left without saying goodbye. I ranted and raved, then settled down into being a single, pseudo-mother for Joyce, my sister’s child. When Trevor had showed up at my front door four months later, I let him in, hoping he was back to stay.
I was wrong again.

I pulled my mind back to the present. With the advent of spring, my heart had thawed a bit. Then right before tourist season kicked in, I took the job at Sadie’s. Summer kept me hopping from one Hiker’s Breakfast Plate to the next with no time to dwell on what pained me. Autumn had made an appearance after the last cold snap. My favorite season. This year, the expectation of crisp days and cold nights failed to cheer me. All the vibrancy drained from me when I recalled the police officer at the stoplight and the icy cold stare as his eyes met mine across the roadway.

What was Iverson doing here? How had he gotten another job in law enforcement?

I glanced over my shoulder. No one trailed me down the street. At least, I didn’t think so. Was that man staring at me? Did that car slow as it passed? Was there a hint of malice in the air?

About the author:

Want to know a little bit more about Denise? She's a Southern girl who has lived in Louisiana all her life, and yes, she has a drawl. She has a wonderful husband and two incredible children, who not only endure her writing moods, but also encourage her to indulge her writing passion. Besides writing romantic suspense, she enjoys traveling, reading, and scrapbooking.

Accounting is a skill she has learned to earn a little money to support her writing habit. She wrote her first story when she was a teen, seventeen handwritten pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she had read. She's been writing off and on ever since, and with more than a few full-length manuscripts already completed, she has no desire to slow down.

Connect with Denise:
Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Buy the book:
Amazon | Amazon author page

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cover reveal: Mobsters, Monsters & Nazis

Author Dan O'Brien has teamed up with artist Steve Ferchaud for a one-of-a-kind reading experience that will span six short books. Blending noir, hardboiled detective stories, and pulp comics, Mobsters, Monsters & Nazis follows private investigator Derrick Diamond as he searches for an elusive object: a strange device that the Nazis need for their nefarious experiments. Aided by Ava Harpy, a lounge singer at the Yellow Monarch, they dive deep into the underbelly of the city, uncovering a sordid plot that is much larger than they could have possibly imagined.

If you love illustrated works, pulp comics, and a little bit of Lovecraft in your stories, then what are you waiting for?

It is available for pre-order starting today, so be sure to grab and let everyone know about it! You can pre-order it for only $2.99 by clicking on the button below.