Thursday, April 2, 2015

Character Interview with Pamela Fagan Hutchins' Emily Bernal


About the character

Disgraced paralegal and former rodeo queen Emily Bernal moves back in with her very conservative, religious mother in her West Texas hometown when her husband cleans out their bank accounts and cheats on her with another woman, who turns out to be a man. Broke and desperate, she resists going to work for sexy criminal attorney Jack Holden, at first, until she learns his illegal immigrant client’s six-year-old daughter is missing. Emily becomes obsessed with finding the girl and tracks her through a trail of dead bodies across two states.


Interview with Emily from Heavens to Betsy

Emily, how did you first meet Pamela?
Pamela and I met when she wrote about my friend, Katie Kovacs. I thought she nailed Katie, although, at the time, Katie was super embarrassed about having her whole humiliating life made fodder for the reading public. Alcoholism, totally blowing a celebrity trial in Dallas, and getting rejected big time by the man she was in love with. It was some heavy stuff, but funny. I never told Katie how hard I laughed reading it, so let’s keep that our little secret.

Deal. Want to dish about Pamela?
I can suddenly understand where Katie was coming from about Pamela now. I tried to move back home and put my past behind me, and suddenly I’m reading about Rich and his transvestite lover Stormy and me, and I just know people think I’m the world’s biggest idiot not to have seen it coming. And living with my mother, who thinks she’s the Church Lady but looks more like an aging stripper. It’s all a little much when everyone’s talking about you like that, you know?

Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
The only way I thought I’d be in a book was if I made it on the professional rodeo circuit. I rodeoed all through college, and I won the Southwest Conference in barrel racing my senior year, and my dad was a professional rodeo cowboy. But Dad ran off when I was a teenager, and when Rich asked me to marry him, I gave up rodeo. So who would want to write a book about a paralegal? Because that’s what I became. B-O-R-I-N-G. Or so I thought, until I went to work for Jack.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
I’ll have to tell you about my second favorite, because my favorite would be a spoiler for the ending. In my second favorite scene, my high school nemesis turned Assistant District Attorney, the annoyingly perfect Melinda Stafford, confronts me about the wrong thing at the wrong time, and I swear it was the meds I was on, but POW, I popped her one, fist to the jaw. My new best friend Wallace—he’s a CPS investigator, and gay, which isn’t easy in West Texas—nearly died. I’d wanted to do that since I was twelve.

Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?
I had this one really awesome night with my boss Jack, before I messed up the relationship by spending time with someone he was jealous of. Pamela thought that was a little too private, but once I told her I fell asleep before he could get his boots off, she was OK with it. But we made out like crazy before then, and after I regained consciousness. In my defense, I had been pregnant, so I hadn’t had a thing to drink in awhile.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
I love my job. I always thought criminal law was kind of smarmy, but Jack makes it sexy. We really help people, you know? It’s really more about constitutional law when you think about due process, right to a trial by jury, and all that other constitution stuff. Well, that, and what politician is spending the night with prostitutes and which wealthy business has a kleptomaniac for a wife.

Juicy stuff! Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
When I first met Jack, I didn’t like him much, but he grew on me, to say the least. And I always liked his killer dimple. Wallace, I adore. Nadine, who waits tables at a Thai restaurant by day and slings drinks at a gentleman’s club by night, is the BOMB. She’s a biker chick at heart but a mother and a volunteer for underprivileged kids. I’m pretty lucky when it comes to my fellow characters.



What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? 
People think I’m a dumb blonde at first, but they get over it pretty quickly.

How about after they've known you for a while?
Once they’ve known me awhile, they figure out that I’m the one they want to have around in a fight, or when somebody needs to do something, although the somethings I choose are occasionally in legally gray areas. I get things done.

What's the worst thing that's happened in your life? What did you learn from it?
My dad left us when I was sixteen. He was my hero. For the first few years, he still called and wrote and sent birthday and Christmas presents. Then, when I turned twenty-two, he disappeared for good. I’ve never heard from him since. What have I learned? Well, between him leaving and my husband leaving, I’ve learned that I have to rely on myself. And that I can. I’m a lot stronger than most people think.



What are you most afraid of?

It hurts to even talk about it, but I’m most afraid of not having children. I’m thirty, unmarried, and no children.

What do you like best about Jack, your boss? Least?
I love Jack’s discretion and loyalty, and how he looks in his jeans. I adore his lopsided smile and the way he gets a dimple on the left side of his face when he raises his left eyebrow. I cannot stand the way the man cannot answer a simple question with a straight answer to save his life. And I absolutely hate how discreet and private he is. But those jeans and the left side of his face make up for it.


Does he have a brother you could introduce me to? If your story were a movie, who would play you?
Emma Stone, for sure.

Describe the town where you live.
Windy. Smells like cows. Gets as much snow as most of Colorado. Home of the American Quarter Horse Museum. In the heart of Friday Night Lights fever. Big enough to lull you into complacency and small enough that you run into your high school boyfriend at the gas station. And the absolute nicest people you’ll meet anywhere in the entire world.

Will you encourage your author to write a sequel?
I don’t think I have a choice in the matter — she’s already written one and is on a third! She promises after that she’s done. I will just have to try really, really hard not to do anything worth writing about. To her credit, some amazing things happened to me. In Heaven to Betsy, our client, Sofia, was murdered in jail, orphaning her missing daughter. They had both emigrated illegally from Mexico, and no one seemed to care about finding the girl but me. Then in Earth to Emily, two teenage runaways witnessed the murder of a truck driver and turned to me for help, throwing me into a world of interstate trafficking of stolen goods and dirty cops. And in Hell to Pay, a militant religious group is targeting people and businesses to ruin, and our client gets in the way. Really, my life isn’t usually this exciting. Or at least it wasn’t until I met Jack.

About the author

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning and bestselling romantic mysteries and hilarious nonfiction, and moonlights as a workplace investigator and employment attorney. She is passionate about great writing, smart authorpreneurship, and her two household hunks, husband Eric and one-eyed Boston terrier Petey. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start.

If you like Sandra Brown or Janet Evanovich for fiction or Erma Bombeck for nonfiction, you're going to love Pamela.



Connect with Pamela
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Author: Annette Dashofy


About the book

Paramedic Zoe Chambers is used to saving lives, but when she stops a man from running into a raging inferno in a futile attempt to rescue his wife, Zoe finds herself drawn to him, and even more so to his ten-year-old daughter. She invites them both to live at the farm while the grieving widower picks up the pieces of his life.

Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams, of course, is not happy with this setup, especially when he finds evidence implicating Zoe's new houseguest in murder times two. When Zoe ignores Pete's dire warnings, she runs the very real chance of burning one too many bridges, losing everything--and everyone--she holds dear.



Interview with Annette Dashofy


Annette, what’s the story behind the title Bridges Burned?
Besides the obvious series of fires that take place in the story, several of the characters cross lines that may or may not burn some bridges behind them. I’d been toying with variations of Burned Bridges, Burning Bridges, etc., when one of my critique partners, Jeff Boarts, who we tease because he frequently breaks into Yoga-Speak, suggested flopping the title around. I loved it and so did my editor. Hence: Bridges Burned.

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
The Zoe Chambers mystery series is set in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. Zoe is a paramedic and deputy coroner which places her in the heart of the action, dealing with life and death. She has a sort-of love interest with Pete Adams, a Pittsburgh police officer turned small town chief of police. While there are threads (such as the Pete/Zoe relationship) that continues and grows throughout the series, the books can be read out of order without the reader becoming lost.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania on a farm very much like the one where Zoe lives. In fact, I still live on ten acres of what used to be my grandparents’ 150 acre dairy farm.

What do you love about where you live?

I love being surrounded on three sides by nothing but pasture and woods. Living a half hour’s drive from anywhere worth going can be an inconvenience, but after spending time in the city, I need that drive to decompress. I’ll always be a farm girl at heart.



Have you been in any natural disasters?
Only if you consider the flood created by Hurricane Ivan. We’re well inland, so we didn’t get the brunt of the storm, but I sat in my house watching our little creek, which is ordinarily about three-feet across and a couple hundred yards behind my house, turn into a raging river that tore out all our fences and came within twenty-five feet or so from my back door. Our road was washed out both north and south of us, so if I’d had to evacuate, I wouldn’t have been able to drive out.


What makes you excited?
An invitation by one of my horsey friends to go riding! Hint hint.

How did you meet your husband?
I was working at a local western shop and he was one of those guys who comes in and picks up the salesgirls!

Was it love at first site?

Honestly, no. After our first date, I remember telling my mom I liked him as someone to hang out with, but didn’t think it would become anything serious. That was thirty-five years ago!

If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?
My cat. Provided my husband was okay. Or maybe I’d give him the cat and I’d grab my laptop!

Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?
Ha! I’m an introvert, so “sociable” isn’t a great draw. Definitely a lonely genius!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
New Mexico. Or Colorado. I grew up watching westerns with my dad and fell in love with the “wild west.” I finally traveled there a couple of years ago and, like John Denver’s song, Rocky Mountain High, I felt like I was “coming home to a place I’d never been before.” I went back last fall and am planning a third trip.

How did you create the plot for this book?
There had been a natural gas explosion near here and sadly, a young girl died in the fire. Early news reports suggested the explosion and death hadn’t been accidental. Those reports were quickly proven false, but they made me wonder, what if . . . After some research, I had my story.

Who are your favorite authors?
Craig Johnson, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Hank Phillippi-Ryan, and Lisa Scottoline. Not in any particular order.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)? I’m currently reading my fellow Agatha Award nominees for Best First Novel. I read Finding Sky by Susan O’Brien on my Nook, and I have Tracy Weber’s Murder Strikes a Pose on my e-reader, too. I’m reading the paperbacks of Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris and Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran.


Do you have a routine for writing?

I wish. My “dream” routine, which happens about once, maybe twice a week, is to write all morning, then spend the afternoon on other writing business or promotional stuff. But more often than not, I have to spend the day with my mom, so I do an early morning writing “sprint,” just to keep the forward progress going.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
As I mentioned, I usually prefer to write in the morning. I have an office in my home where I’m most productive, but my husband and I have a small camp on the Youghiogheny River in Confluence, PA. During weekends in April through September, he fly fishes all day and I write. Since I don’t have any other obligations when we’re there, I get a LOT of work done.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
An older gentlemen recently emailed and told me, like Pete, he’d fallen in love with Zoe! That was just about the sweetest thing any fan has ever said to me!

That is a great compliment! Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
My little local library, because my folks took me there as a youngster. It was in that small building that I discovered my love of books and of writing. Mom always thought I’d become a librarian, but I took a similar, but different path!

What would your dream office look like?
Oh, great question. My current office is small and cluttered. I would love one with lots of storage space and even more bookshelves with a neat desk and the one thing I don’t have right now—a comfortable reading corner IN my office.

Why did you decide to publish with Henery Press?
I’d been trying the agent route for a number of years. I had two different agents for another series, which didn’t sell, and parted company with both of them. I was at that point of constantly hearing “she’s on the cusp of being published,” but couldn’t quite make it happen. I finally decided, after over ten years of beating my head on the publishing wall, to give myself some deadlines. I would query Circle of Influence to agents for six months. If nothing happened, I would shop it around to some presses. If still nothing happened, I was going to self publish it . . . and probably give in to my husband’s nagging to get a real job. No agents showed any interest, but ten days after I submitted to Henery Press, they offered me a three-book contract. I’ve loved every moment with them.

What are you working on now?
Bridges Burned is the third of that three-book contract, but I’ve since signed with Henery Press for three more Zoe Chambers mysteries. I’m currently working on the fourth in the series.

About the author

Annette Dashofy is the Agatha nominated and USA Today best selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. Circle of Influence (Henery Press) was published in March 2014, followed by Lost Legacy, which was released in September 2014, and Bridges Burned, available in April 2015. Her short fiction includes a 2007 Derringer Award nominee featuring the same characters as her novels.

Connect with Annette:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |   Amazon Pinterest


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Featured Author: Amelia Ford



About the book:

“His terminology struck me as odd and then I realised he was talking about Toby. I snatched my hand from his and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up like the hackles on a dog. The unease I felt when I first saw him returned…” 

The day after the first anniversary of her sister’s death, twenty six year old Sophie McAllister is paid an unexpected visit from a handsome stranger who delivers some disturbing news about her eight year old nephew and ward. Just when Sophie thought her life was getting back on track, she is forced to put her trust in a man with an extraordinary secret. She begins a perilous journey that not only threatens everything she holds dear, but also challenges her innermost fears. Does Sophie have the courage to defy her enemies, face her fears and open her heart to a man who promises a future that is out of this world? 

A captivating love story about one woman’s struggle to protect, let go and love.


Interview with Amelia Ford

Amelia, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I'm a sucker for a romance but it has to have a good storyline, strong characters, and have that page-turning quality. About three years ago I was struggling to find something that fit this bill, so I decided to have a go at writing the kind of book I like to read.  I was teaching at the time, and although I had written academic stuff, it was my first foray into fiction. Little did I know that I was about to embark on the most exciting, addictive and satisfying journey, the likes of which cannot be found in any kind of travel brochure! I soon learnt that by exploring my imagination anything was possible. It was a huge turning-point in my life, Tagan's Child was born, and I was hooked!

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
There are two books in the series, and currently I have no plans to write a third. I hadn't planned to write the sequel to Tagan's Child just yet, but the response from readers was so overwhelming that I knew I had to continue Ahran and Sophie's story. 

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I am a full-time mum.

Hardest job in the world! What’s your favorite line from a book?
"Harry – yer a wizard." The most defining words in modern literature. 

How do you get to know your characters?
The more I write about them, the more they grow. It's not really something I have any control over.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
My characters are drawn from lots of people. A little bit here from someone, a little bit there from someone else. Family, friends, a chance meeting. No one is safe ;)

I hear you. A writer is constantly watching. What song would you pick to go with your book?
A reader recommended "Sledgehammer" by Fifth Harmony. I love this, and it describes Sophie's feelings so well.

Who are your favorite authors?

C.S Lewis, Roald Dahl, JK Rowling, Mario Puzo, and Alexander Dumas.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
The Three Musketeers by Dumas. I'm reading it on my Kindle.

What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
Poor writing.


Do you have a routine for writing?
It's hard to have a routine with a family, I just write whenever I can.

Where’s home for you?
I live in rural Kent, just outside Canterbury in the UK.

What do you love about where you live?
It's green, it's peaceful and it's teaming with wildlife.


What makes you scared?
Heights.

What makes you excited?
Anticipating spending time with my friends.

How did you meet your husband? Was it love at first sight?
We met at school when we were 18. And yes, it was pretty much love at first sight.

Why did you decide to self-publish?
I didn't want to be tied to any deadlines, and I wanted control of my book. Am I a control freak? Probably.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
"The magic is in you, there ain't no crystal ball." – Dolly Parton.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Play with my kids and their ponies.

What are you working on now?
I'm working on the sequel to Tagan's Child called Tagan's Legacy, which will be released in the Fall. And then I shall finish another story I've started.

Excerpt from Tagan's Child

“Goodnight lovely boy.” I stroked the side of my eight-year-old nephew’s pale face, noticing the purplish smudges under his eyes caused by a day of crying. I tucked his duvet in around his shoulders. “Your mummy would be so proud of you. I’m so proud of you, it’s been a difficult day and you’ve coped with it so well.”

“I miss her, Auntie Sophie.” His voice wobbled and I watched a tear roll down each cheek.  My heart went out to him.  There had been times today when my grief had threatened to engulf me, and yet in spite of his tears and his own grief he had tried to be my pillar of strength. 

“Come here.” I gathered him in my arms and he began to sob quietly into my shoulder.

It was the first anniversary of Katie’s death. A year ago today her life had been snuffed out on a lane just outside our village when her car had skidded on a patch of ice causing her to lose control and nose-dive into a ditch. She suffered fatal head injuries.  It was the tragic end of a young woman’s life, the end of a doting mother and the end of my very special sister.

“I know you miss her, my darling, I miss her too.” My throat constricted. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath willing my tears to stay put. The pain my sister’s death had caused could only be matched by the pain I felt for my nephew’s loss. No child should ever have to suffer the death of their mother.

Toby took a shuddering breath. “Do you think she can see us?” He wiped his eyes.

“I’m sure she can.” I gave him a reassuring squeeze. I sat back and put my hands on his shoulders. “Your mummy is with you every second of every day, watching over you, watching you grow into a clever, funny, and wonderful young man.”

He gave me a weak smile. 

“She loves you and is counting on you to hold your head up high and be brave.”

He sat up a little straighter and wiped his nose on the sleeve of his pyjamas. “I mustn’t let her down must I?”

His look of fragile determination swelled my heart. “You could never let her down.”

He was a handsome little boy, tall and muscular for an eight year old with a natural talent for sport and a distinct phobia of hairdressers.

I brushed a curl away from his right eye. I felt a desperate urge to reassure him and let him know he wasn’t alone. “I want you to know that I’ll always be here for you. I may not be your mummy but I will always look after you and keep you safe as if I were.”

Toby nodded and his bottom lip trembled.

I wasn’t sure I could hold it together for much longer. I got to my feet. “It’s getting late and you’ve got school tomorrow.”

I said this maybe a little too brusquely as I struggled to hold back the tears. I needed to go downstairs and bury myself in the sofa so Toby couldn’t hear my sobs. But not before I had made a significant dent in the bottle of rosé chilling in the fridge.

I stood up and switched the lamp off beside his bed. 

“I love you, Auntie Sophie.” 

“I love you too,” I said, swallowing back the lump in my throat. I bent down and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Sleep tight and see you in the morning.”

I made my way down to the kitchen taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly in the hope that it would ease the pain lodged in my chest. It had been a tough day and I felt sad and wrung out.  I knew that Toby would be asleep in a matter of minutes. I, on the other hand, would struggle to find any respite in sleep until the early hours of tomorrow morning.  Insomnia had become my new best friend since Katie’s death.  Why was it that, as an adult, I had lost that ability to switch off? I envied that about children.

I let Toby’s dog, a Weimaraner called Mungo, out for a last wee before retrieving the bottle of wine from the fridge. All I wanted to do now was curl up on the sofa and cry until I couldn’t cry anymore. I made my way into the lounge and poured myself a glass of wine. I downed it and stared into the fire roaring in the log burner.  My tears began to fall. I put my glass on the coffee table and buried my face in the cushions. I sobbed for my sister and the future she would never have, for Toby who would never feel his mother’s comforting arms around him again, and for myself, who felt the loss of Katie so keenly that it had been a constant weight tugging at my heart over the last twelve months. 

Eventually, my tears subsided and my grief was reduced to dry, chest heaving sobs.  Despite feeling exhausted, I knew if I went to bed now I would only lie there, staring at the ceiling in the dark. I scoured the sitting room for my Kindle. The days I could cope with, I could keep busy and push the shadows of grief to the background, but it was the nights I struggled with most when the house was quiet and dark. Darkness only seemed to emphasise my sadness and fear.

About the author

Tagan's Child is Amelia Ford's first novel. She lives in Kent, UK with her husband, three children and a variety of furry and feathered friends.

Connect with Amelia:
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Guest Post by Amy Korman


About the book:

Spunky crime-lite and the glitterati detail of a society column combine to shake up the Florida in Killer Getaway, from former Philadelphia Magazine senior editor Amy Korman.
With a storm brewing in Bryn Mawr, PA, the Killer WASPs head south to Palm Beach, FL. And what could be better than fabulous friends, Lilly Pulitzer beachwear, frozen cocktails, and high society drama?

Kristin Clark, and her basset hound, Waffles, are ready to escape the doldrums of winter to bask in the warm Florida sun and dine at her friends’ new restaurant, Vicino. But when a rival restaurant undergoes a HGTV makeover and attempts to steal Vicinio’s spotlight and their patrons, the town is abuzz with gossip and Kristin and her friends–Bootsie, a nosy reporter, Holly, a chicken nugget heiress, and Sophie, the soon-to-be ex-wife of a mobster-have parties to attend.

Everything is going swimmingly in the glitz and glamour of Palm Beach until a bad batch of clams threatens to shut down the Vicino and their vacation for good. When it becomes clear that the clams may be more than an innocent mishap, the ladies must unravel the mystery before there are deadly consequences.

Perfect for fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series!




Tour Page Here: http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/upcoming-tours/killer-getaway-by-amy-korman/

Six Fun Facts about Killer Getaway character Sophie Shields

1.      Sophie was once married to the Mob (well, an ex-Mafia guy named Barclay Shields). So, she’s seen it all, and not much surprises Sophie!

2.      She’s loyal. Sophie will do anything for a friend, which is why her Pilates instructor Gerda moved in for two years. When her friends Channing and Jessica open the restaurant Vicino in Killer Getaway, Sophie invests in the new place, and waits tables when all their staff quit.

3.      She’s in love with her decorator Joe, and can’t wait to get divorced so she and Joe can get hitched! (That might take some time, since her almost-ex-hubby’s hiding his assets, and Joe isn’t sure he’s ready to get married.)

4.      Sophie’s up for anything. Sneaking around Magnolia Beach to eavesdrop on a lawyer-turned-condo developer who’s about to ruin a pristine stretch of beachfront land is a fun night out for her. Her other passions include miniature golf, pizza, kale smoothies, shopping, and giving fashion advice.

5.      Sophie loves outfits designed by Versace. And in Killer Getaway, she also becomes a big fan of Lilly Pulitzer dresses, which are a favorite in Magnolia Beach.

6.      Life doesn’t get Sophie down. So what if her soon-to-be-ex-husband is sneaking around and possibly trying to poison the customers in the restaurant Sophie co-owns? Sure, Joe thinks he’s not ready to get married, but Sophie is sure she’ll convince him eventually. She may be tiny, but Sophie has a core of pure steel!


About the author

Amy Korman is a former senior editor and staff writer for Philadelphia Magazine, and author of Frommer’s Guide to Philadelphia. She has written for Town & Country, House Beautiful, Men’s Health, and Cosmopolitan. Killer Getaway is her second novel.

Connect with Amy

Buy the book!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Featured Author: Kevin V. Symmons




About the book:

Jessica Long has the voice of an angel. But Jesse's cold beauty masks a brutal past filled with privation and cruelty. As the talented soprano approaches her final year at New England Conservatory, she is faced with a choice: stay with her striking young lover or accept the offer of a successful Broadway producer. She chooses the latter only to discover that fame can exact a cruel price. After years of yearning, the lovers meet again - at Jesse's ragged homestead on the Maine Coast. Matt will reveal the benefactor who's followed and protected Jesse as the lovers face a confrontation with the jealous pursuer who's tried to destroy her. One final choice awaits that may cost Jesse both Matt and her life. The Broadway impresario, a mysterious crime lord, and Matt's stunning literary agent head a cast of absorbing secondary characters. Filled with unexpected plot twists, Solo is a classic, leading the reader over a bittersweet tapestry spanning fifteen years.

Interview with Kevin V. Symmons

How long have you been writing, and how did you start?
Since college, but my career as a novelist began about ten years ago.

What’s the story behind the title Solo?
As a former serious music student and published author, I wanted to synthesize those art forms and create a serious novel that dealt with them and also included a segue into the sad world of domestic violence, for which I have raised funds and been a spokesman. Solo is the result.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

No. I am a full time author.

Who are you?
I am a renaissance man. I have been a classically trained musician (studied at New England Conservatory and have a minor in music at the undergrad level), a businessman (#1 in my MBA class), an Army officer, a consultant, an athlete, a Coast Guard certified operator in both seamanship and navigation, and of course a best-selling author of commercial fiction.

How did you create the plot for Solo?

There are those who spend months outlining and those of us who write using what Stephen King characterizes as “Organic writers . . .” I’m one of those, meaning I developed an idea . . . two ambitious and successful young people who are instantly attracted to each other and then I let my characters and imagination run with it. I could never have imagined what I emerged with as the final product!

What’s your favorite line from a book?
The tag line . . . borrowed from Oscar Wilde, BTW . . . “When the gods want to punish us they let our dreams come true.” IT is the best example of summarizing a novel’s plot in a single line I have ever seen (and my publisher agreed).

How do you get to know your characters?

It took me seven years to write Solo. I wrote two other novels for my publisher while working on it, so I got to know every character very well. And as you may expect, several did major changes over the evolution of the novel.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?
Jesse . . . Jessica Long, my heroine. I believe in vibrant, dynamic heroines and Jesse may be my most. She is so driven and yet so vulnerable and so sensitive. I love her!

What would your main character say about you?
My desire to create complex and vivid characters who both engage and challenge the reader. I want them wondering, guessing what and how she’ll handle the next crisis in her life . . . perhaps supposing what they’d do in her place!

Is your book based on real events?
Yes and no. As a former musician and student of music, I based it roughly on the evolution of musical theater during the mid to late 1980s. Think of the relationship between Sarah Brightman and Andrew Lloyd Weber.

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?
My hero . . . he is a mega best-selling author of historical fiction!


What song would you pick to go with your book?
“I Dreamt a Dream.” It is the song that my heroine, Jessica Long, sings at her watershed recital — the one that propels her to stardom — and so appropriate for her life.

Who are your favorite authors?

So many. Cormac McCarthy, Dan Brown. John Grisham . . . Nicolas Sparks (every other novel . . . ha ha!) and several friends.

Do you have a routine for writing?
No. It depends on my schedule!

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

Late into the evening. My favorite time is between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. in the morning!

Where’s home for you?
I live south of Boston . . . Plymouth (America’s Home Town!) and Cape Cod in the summer.

Where did you grow up?
Boston’s South Shore . . . born in Quincy, Massachusetts and grew up in several local locations.

What dumb things did you do during your college years?
Too many to numerate. Once kicked a fire hydrant and broke my ankle!

Ouch! I love Boston and New England in general. What do you love about where you live?
The history and the people.



Have you been in any natural disasters?
Many hurricanes, if that qualifies.

It does. What are you working on now?
I began edits with my editor on February 1st on Chrysalis, my new novel. It’s a YA/NA romantic thriller. I expect it to be released late spring/early summer of 2015.


C

About the author:

Kevin Symmons has a BS and an MBA. He has attended the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music and studied in France. After a successful career in business management and consulting, he returned to his first love: writing. His first novel, a spell-binding paranormal romance titled Rite of Passage is set in the chaotic period after World War II. It's received dozens of great reviews and was a RomCon Reader's Crown Finalist for 2013. His second effort is a contemporary romantic thriller set near his Cape Cod home, titled Out of the Storm. Like his first novel, it is an Amazon Best-Seller and received many 5-star reviews. Solo, an intense and ambitious women's fiction work, has been released from The Wild Rose Press, his award-winning publisher. It explores the devastating effects of privation and domestic violence on the beautiful and extraordinarily talented young heroine.
 
Connect with Kevin:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads 
Buy the  book

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Featured Author: Tonya Kappes


About the book:

A funeral, a ghost, a murder . . . it’s all in a day’s work for Emma Lee Raines. 


Bopped on the head from a falling plastic Santa, local undertaker Emma Lee Raines is told she’s suffering from “funeral trauma.” It’s trauma all right, because the not so dearly departed keep talking to her. Take Ruthie Sue Payne--innkeeper, gossip queen, and arch-nemesis of Emma Lee’s granny-she’s adamant that she didn’t just fall down those stairs. She was pushed.



Ruthie has no idea who wanted her pushing up daisies. All she knows is that she can’t cross over until the matter is laid to eternal rest. In the land of the living, Emma Lee’s high-school crush, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, isn’t ready to rule out foul play. Granny Raines, the widow of Ruthie’s ex-husband and co-owner of the Sleepy Hollow Inn, is the prime suspect. Now Emma Lee is stuck playing detective or risk being haunted forever.



Interview with Tonya Kappes

Tonya, what’s the story behind the title A Ghostly Undertaking
About five years ago I toyed with a paranormal young adult where the girl is growing up in a funeral home. Over time, the plot turned into an adult being the undertaker. At that point, I play the “what if” game. The crazier the situations, the better for me since I write humor.

Undertaker is pretty morbid, but what if one of the clients really didn’t die of natural causes like the coroner thought. What if they were murdered and can’t cross over to the other side until their killer is brought to justice? What if the undertaker is the only one who can see the ghost? How did the undertaker get the ability to see the ghost? What if the ghost gets in the way? What if the ghost is lazy? What if the ghost decides to haunt people of the town while the undertaker is trying to figure out the murder? What if the . . .and it just keeps going.

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
A Ghostly Southern Mystery series is in the mystery genre with an amateur sleuth, so reading the first book in the series first really sets up the sleuth’s background and why she is thrown into solving the mystery. Since it’s a series, the characters of the small town develop over time and different things happen to them in each book that will have repercussions for the next book. I’m sure you could read them as stand alones, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Where’s home for you?
I live in Northern Kentucky. The very tippy top from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Cool! I live just a little over an hour away in Louisville. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small central Kentucky town, Nicholasville. It was great and happened to give me a good backdrop for all of my fiction small towns in my novels.

What’s your favorite memory?
Growing up in a small town.



What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
You have to hustle in life to get what you want. You can’t write a story and hope for the best. Hustle.

Who would you pick to write your biography?
My husband. He knows me better than I know myself.

What dumb things did you do during your college years?
That is under lock and key!

What do you love about where you live?
I love my neighborhood. We have a few lakes that make a great backdrop for my daily walk with my dogs. We also live a street over from my kids' high school, so no more car pooling!!!!



Have you been in any natural disasters?
I have. I was in a tornado while driving. My dog was in the car with me, and it took everything I had to grab my dog and push the car door open so we could get out. I jumped out and into a truck with a stranger. I told the guy that if we were going to die, we were dying together. Yeah . . . he probably thought I was nuts.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
Be a mother.


What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
I have four boys (21, 17, 17, and 15). When I was a teenager, a boy I was crushing on would look at me or talk to me and I’d obsess over it for days, even weeks. Now that I have boys . . . I totally understand the teenage boy mind. Now I know the boy I crushed on was just looking and just talking. Nothing more. If I only knew . . . it would have saved me a whole lot of heartache as a teenage girl.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?

None. I have no regrets.



What makes you nervous?
Release day.


What makes you happy?
Release day.

What makes you scared?
Release day.

What makes you excited?
Release day.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I do not. I did. In fact I have two college bachelors. Yeah . . . not in English either!

Who are you?
I’m simple. I’m straightforward. I don’t play games, and I don’t believe in being mean. I believe there is room for everyone in the world and KINDNESS goes a long way. I don’t believe in jealousy. I believe we are on our own path and you control your destiny.

How did you meet your husband?
I love my story! I was the director of a private school and his children were in my son’s class. He became a very good friend before we dated.

What are your most cherished mementoes?
My kiddos made me a bracelet out of old scrabble tiles. I love it!

If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?
My laptop!

I hear you! What brings you sheer delight?
Coffee. Coffee. And coffee.

Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?
Sociable idiot! What good is being a genius if you are lonely?

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
"Thoughts become things, choose the good ones." -Mike Dooley

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
Somewhere hot and tropical! Anywhere hot and tropical!

What would you like people to say about you after you die?
The end.

What would your main character say about you?
Tonya will take a normal situation and twist it. Then twist it some more. Adding a little more twist. And a few more twists to make sure it’s all messed up.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
My small town of Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky is definitely a character. It is inspired from my growing up in a small town. I also can’t help but take a name or two and tweak it a bit. A lot of fun names hail from the South and are too good not to use. I can not name them . . . I might get burned at the stake and I’m not fond of fire.

I agree--Southern names are the best. 
Do you have a routine for writing?
I do. I get up at 5:30 am and begin. I would rather get up in the morning and get my word count. I’m big on routines, and if I get off of my routine, my day is going up in flames!

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I like to write by my pool during the warm months. When it’s winter, I follow the sunspot through my windows in my house. It starts out in my kitchen, then my sitting room, finishing off in the family room. I know . . . weird! It’s kinda comical because my dogs and I fight for the sunspot.

Not weird at all. I need sunlight too. What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing?
I don’t know. I do not read reviews.

What would your dream office look like?
A hot tropical beach!

Why did you decide to publish with HarperCollins?

I self-published first. I had a job as a child therapist and loved it. I was not a writer. When I went through a divorce with my first marriage, I found comfort in books. When I got remarried, my husband encouraged me to write my first novel. In short, I asked him if he thought I could help someone escape from his or her everyday life with my stories, he encouraged me more. My goal to publishing was that. HELP ONE READER MAKE THEIR DAY BETTER. That is still my goal today.

I self-published over 15 novels, but A Ghostly Undertaking and the rest of the series is published with HarperCollins Publisher. I’m hybrid. I believe in all roads to publishing, and I’m fortunate that HarperCollins has really embraced my self publishing side. They even have my self published titles printed in the front of my traditionally published novels.

Are you happy with your decision to publish with a publisher vs. self-publish?
I will always self-publish. I love that I have toes in both worlds of publishing. It’s a perfect situation.

How did you find HarperCollins, and how long did your query process take?
A Ghostly Undertaking was originally self-published and sold well over 80,000 copies in a couple of months. It was pretty successful with readers. My agent asked me if he could shop it around to traditional publishers, which was a big step for me since I really didn’t need a traditional publisher. I had my agent for foreign rights and other contractual things. I gave him the green light on Ghostly and he sold it to HarperCollins right off the bat. In a couple weeks we had a four book deal.
I was pretty lucky. I’m very grateful for my agent. He rocks!

What does HarperCollins do for you that you couldn't do as a self-publisher?
There comes a time in self publishing where the author just can't reach as many readers as a large publisher. Bookstores are not dead, and while they are still up and running, readers are going there to buy books. If only ONE reader buys my book from a store, it was worth it. HarperCollins and traditional publishers in general have gotten a lot smarter! They are pricing ebooks comparable to the self-published books, they are starting their own advertising platforms like Bookbub, they are holding Facebook parties for their authors to connect with their readers, and hosting reader oriented events. I'm fortunate enough that I will be doing self-publishing and traditional publishing in my career. I have the best of both worlds, and it's exactly where I want to be.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on a new series for the traditional world and the third novel in my self published Laurel London Mystery series. I’m always working, and I love it!

About the author


Tonya Kappes has written more than fifteen novels and four novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers, and one ex-stray cat in northern Kentucky. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes full-time but can be found at all of her guys’ high school games with a pencil and paper in hand. More than anything, Tonya loves to connect with readers, with a loyal ‘street team’ of fans and followers on social media. Be sure to check out her Facebook, Twitter, blog and newsletter!


Connect with Tonya

Website  |  FacebookTwitter  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest  |  HarperCollins  




Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Author: Emily Craven



About the book:

Madeline Cain knows that after six chaotic months, the rest of her time in New York City will be smooth sailing with Kevin -- her new squeeze -- by her side. That is, until Madeline's idols drop a bombshell - she needs to pick a specialisation before the year is out or risk losing the career of her dreams. The problem? She's about as sure of her photographic passion as a hiker is of outrunning a bear.

Thus Madeline begins her search for her one true path with student-arranged assignments featuring certifiably insane children, lip-synching rockers, a dog whisperer, and . . .  zombies? But it’s not until Madeline secures a 'life-debt' by saving a potential mobster from a gun-wielding cross-dresser that she sets her sights on an amazing internship opportunity.

Is her new patron really part of the mob? Can she nail this internship when all her experiments are going to hell? And how does she deal with Kevin's obsession over her escapades?

Written as though you’re reading Madeline's Facebook page, Adventures in Fashion will leave you giggling on the floor as Maddie posts about the second half of her Big Apple adventure.


Interview with Emily Craven

Emily, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I’d like to say I’ve been a writer since I was old enough to tell the difference between dirt and food but that would be a lie. I originally started writing when I was twelve, after I learnt one of my favourite authors, Isobelle Carmody, started her first book at 14. I worked on that book throughout high school and over the years have refined (though never released) it. I’m all for experimentation in my work (which may confuse a few first time readers of the Madeline Cain series), so I’ve decided to turn this book into a serial podcast and see what happens. Most writers move on from their first manuscripts, but I just can’t leave the disabled darlings alone. The constant tinkering has shown me how to get things right in the first place, with each of my successive books getting better as a result. It took me a good decade to realize the key to writing is planting your butt in a seat and just seeing where those dancing fingers will take you. Generally mine take me to the land of truly horrible drafts.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
Much to my disgust, yes.  But then again, the ‘day’ job isn’t all that bad, at least it allows me to speak to someone other than my inner editor. I run real life choose-your-own-adventures around various cities and towns in Australia. I pull together writers, artists, and musicians to create stories where participants will find themselves trying to bring down an alien invasion in Adelaide, or trying to survive a zombie apocalypse in Brisbane, as they run about the city. Last year, I turned this project (originally known as Street Reads) into a GPS app called Story City and hope to start doing adventures for cities in other countries sometime soon. Who hasn’t read a book where they actually wanted to be part of it?!

How did you create the plot for this book?
The Madeline Cain series came about when I was in a writing rut. I normally write fantasy but found the creative juices just weren't enough to fill a glass. So I decided to challenge myself to write a novel in a month and it was going to be FUN! This ended up being the first book in a series – after two years of frequent beatings with a red pen. Originally, I started sourcing ideas from friends on Facebook and I thought, why stop at brain storming? This is how I communicate with my friends, particularly when I travel overseas, and the most entertaining parts of my day are via posts on the social media site. We were telling each other our life stories, and I didn’t see why it couldn’t work as a narrative. And, frankly, my friends are nuts, they bring the funnies like a troop of clowns from a clown car.

In this particular book in the series, I wanted to explore the multitude of options available to Madeline and the painful process of elimination. The plotting process involved a lot of out-of-the-blue conversations with writing friends asking them things like: “How would you feel about your boyfriend recording all of your conversations for a TV show?” “If you got locked in an elevator with your ex-best friend who was wearing nothing but a bright pink bra, would you get revenge on him? Or just threaten to?”
I think my friends worry about leaving me alone for too long ...

Tell us a book by an indie author for which you’re an evangelist.
Hands down I am evangelistic for Hugh Howey and his Wool series. An awesome dystopian/thriller with wonderful writing, prickly characters and a super detailed world. Plus Hugh is a champion of indie authors in general which just endears him to me even more.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?
Oh my favourite characters were by far my most eccentric, and they weren’t even human! My sister said she wanted an umbrella called Laani (her name) as part of my story. I thought to myself, ‘you wouldn’t name an umbrella unless it could talk.’ And what would be the point of making an umbrella talk unless it caused chaos? If I was an umbrella and was only brought out to be rained on, I’d have a few things to say about that. As this wasn’t a fantasy novel, I had to fall back on the age old excuse of ‘mechanics’ to make the umbrella talk, but it was worth it! Laani became one of the major features of the novels. I even got my sister to record some of the sayings of Laani, the abusive umbrella,so I could give them away as freebies to my readers. There’s nothing like making your sister pretend to be a grouchy old umbrella for your own amusement.

My other favourite character to write was a chameleon called Duncan who could move from one side of the room to the other in a blink of an eye and scare the living daylights out of you. Another friend had requested that there be a chameleon somewhere within the plot, back in the days when I was writing the first novel of the series. I asked myself what I knew about chameleons. It wasn’t much. I thought they were Mexican (turns out no), and I knew they could camouflage themselves. So I turned to a more interesting question, what would be more terrifying than something you can’t see scaring the living daylights out of you? I decided it was something you can’t see AND that can move faster than you. Hence Duncan’s super hero speedy powers coming into play. My characters kind of ran away from me after that, I think that’s why they’re so vivid. They are the entirety of my crazy, shoved into two tiny and deliciously wacky characters.

What would your main character say about you?
She’d tell me I spend too much time inside and I should be having my own adventures rather than writing hers.
  
With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?
Easy, some of my favourite authors! Diana Wynne Jones, Neil Gaiman, Tamora Pierce, Meg Cabot, and Cecelia Ahern.

One of them is dead, but what’s a party without a ghost?

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
My favourite scene in the book is when Madeline decides on her future path after she saves a man from a gun-wielding cross-dresser. Full of innuendo, pros and cons lists, and a little divine intervention, it was by far the most ludicrous and the most utterly perfect scene of the whole book. It sets off a chain of madness Madeline couldn’t hope to stop. It is, of course, blowing everything out of proportion that causes the problems in the first place.

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?
In no particular order:
A Sudden Wild Magic: Diana Wynne Jones
A Place Called Here: Cecelia Ahern
Boy Meets Girl: Meg Cabot
Mediator series (Yes I know it’s a series is not a book. But you can’t make me choose between them!): Meg Cabot
Alanna The Lioness series (*pokes out tongue*): Tamora Pierce.

And body parts:
Fingers, hands, feet, eyes, tongue: all the things I need to write books, see new places, and have interesting and silly conversations.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?
Hands down a library; not only could you recommend books to people (and actually have them follow through with the read by borrowing them) but you also get to borrow all the new books first! If I worked in a bookstore I would have to worry about sales numbers, and rude customers, and shoplifting, and sending books to be destroyed because they didn’t sell. Much too depressing, give me those big vaulted archives any day!

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?
Anything hey ... Well as long as you’re offering to pay, I’m going to take a first class flight to somewhere new, set up in the fanciest restaurant I can find, and people watch while sipping very expensive wine. Thanks for shouting, you’re the best.

What’s that? I have to find my own way home? Bugger.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Einstein.

What’s your favorite candy bar?
Whittakers milk chocolate coconut slab. Heaven in a bar straight from New Zealand.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on a short novella in the Madeline Cain series that happens before the two books. I wanted to give readers a taste of the Madeline Cain world before her New York trip. When it is finally ready, it will be available for free.

And speaking of free, if you grab a copy of ‘Madeline Cain: Adventures In Fashion’ before the end of this virtual blog tour (4th of March) and email me your receipt at ebookrevolution@yahoo.com, I will send you the first book in the Madeline Cain series, The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain, for free!

About the author:

Emily Craven was first inspired to place pen to paper when she was 12, after she learnt her favourite author, Isobelle Carmody, began her first novel at 14. Emily finished two manuscripts while completing a Bachelor of Science (Space Science and Astrophysics and Geophysics) at the University of Adelaide. So technically, she can claim to be an astrophysicist (stars), geophysicist (rocks), and writer (crazy). She writes YA fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction. Emily lives in Australia, and yes, back when she was a teenager her high school had its own herd of Kangaroos. She's been to almost every continent (Africa being her weakness in continent-domination) and has the pretty photographs to prove it (though probably less professional than Madeline Cain...) 

Unusual talents and hobbies include: Getting excited at the thought of sky diving (though if you try to attach her to the end of a bungee cord she will take you down with her). She loves belly dancing, singing, is a self-confessed Trekkie, and will never pass up a good bar of chocolate. If you put her anywhere in the vicinity of snow, she turns into a five year old.

Connect with Emily:
Website  |  Blog (writing)  |  Blog (publishing)  |  Story City  |  Facebook  |  Twitter