Friday, August 26, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: BRENT HARTINGER




ABOUT THE BOOK

A weekend retreat in the woods and an innocent game of three truths and a lie go horribly wrong in this high-octane psychological thriller filled with romantic suspense by a Lambda Award–winning author.

Deep in the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun.

Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell . . . to be the person he really, really wants to be.

Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect.

Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years . . . long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand.

Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy . . . even with the secrets up his sleeve.

One of these truths is a lie . . . and not everyone will live to find out which one it is.



INTERVIEW WITH BRENT HARTINGER


Brent, I can’t believe it’s been over a year since you’ve been here. Catch us up on what you’ve been doing.

Time does fly, doesn't it? It's always strange to be talking about a new book, because whenever I release a book, it's usually a project I was working on three years before. I'm currently working on three new projects. But of course they won't be out for three years, so there's no point in talking about them now! That said, I'm very proud of Three Truths and a Lie, so I'm happy to talk about it.

Where did you get the idea for Three Truths and a Lie?
It was as simple as my visiting a remote cabin in a rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula near Seattle and thinking, "Oh, my God, this would make a fantastic setting for a book!"

Everyone knows what a tropical rain forest is, but these are temperate rain forests, which means they're cold and dark and misty. They're also incredibly lush, with ancient trees, and hanging moss. It's like everything is growing, but nothing has changed in millions of years. Talk about a forest primeval!

But as one of the characters keeps saying, "Nothing is exactly what it seems in this place." This is very much a psychological thriller.

I'm not one of those authors who says that a location is a "character." It's a location, not a character! Give me a break. But I'll grant you that the location here is very specific and very important, and very much a reflection of the characters' feelings.
Then again, that's what I think the location should be in almost every novel.

What's the biggest lie you ever told?
I don't think I've ever told any truly harmful lies, but I guess I've been known to practice the art of "spin." I used to work as an entertainment journalist, and I interviewed many, many famous people—some of the biggest names you can imagine. I confess there were times when I complimented a movie star on a movie or a TV show that I didn't particularly care for. But I'd like to think I was just being polite!

Of course! I know this is an unfair question, but of the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite?

I think it's a totally fair question! I always love my most recent book, which in this case is Three Truths and a Lie.

But among my backlist, my favorite books are Grand & Humble, which is a twisty puzzle box thriller (like Three Truths and a Lie!). It has a twist ending, and no one ever guesses it correctly. Better still, it's currently available for free as an e-book in all platforms.

My other favorite book is Barefoot in the City of Broken Dreams, which is the fifth book in my Russel Middlebrook series (now seven books!). It tells the story of Russel trying to make it as a screenwriter in Los Angeles, but it's mostly my own story too. I knew as I was living it that it would make a good book. And I think it did! It's my most personal, anyway.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
Having written. Being done. But also having something complete, something you can point to and say, "I did that."

There are many, many, MANY frustrations that come along with being a writer (and they all mostly boil down to rejection, failure, and criticism—the unholy trinity!).

But that sense of completion is something that we writers get but not every profession does. I've written twelve published novels now (and a bunch of unpublished ones!), and I've had eight screen projects optioned. That makes me feel quite satisfied!

It should! Do you have a writing routine?
I work Monday through Friday, from about ten until five. But it takes me a while to get rolling. If you walked into my office, I'll be doing much more work later in the day, and later in the week.

In terms of each project, I do a "concept" outline, then a more detailed outline. Then if I can convince someone to buy the damn thing, I do a terrible first draft (that no one sees except me!). Then I rewrite it, and show it to my first reader. Then I rewrite again based on his feedback, and show it to some other early readers. Then I rewrite again based on their feedback. Then I show it to my editor. Then I rewrite again based on his or her feedback (often more than once!), and then I show it to my beta-readers, and rewrite at least one more time.

Then I drop dead of exhaustion!

Do you write every day?

If I'm writing, I'm writing. If I'm not writing, I'm soooooooo not writing! I don't keep a notebook, I don't write for an hour in the morning, I don't even THINK about writing!

For me, writing is insanely hard. I enjoy having done it, and occasionally I'm riding the wave, which feels euphoric. But for the most part, it's a cold, hard, never-ending slog. I don't write for pleasure, so when I want to be having fun, I don't write.

Makes sense. What do you wish you’d done differently when you first started in the publishing business?
I wish I'd known that no one can edit their own work. Seriously, no writer I've ever met has any perspective on his or her own work! You NEED outside eyes—as many as possible. It's the only way to produce anything good.

Honestly, since I discovered first-readers and beta-readers, I think my work is so much better. Writing is about communication, and the most important thing to know is whether or not you've succeeded in actually communicating! Otherwise you're writing for an audience of one: yourself.

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
For me, it goes from hardest to easiest. The outline is the hardest (but it's still essential). The first draft is slightly less hard. The second draft is slightly less hard than that. And so on, all the way through copy-editing.

Then you get to "book promotion," and things get really hard again! Ha!

Agreed! What’s more important—characters or plot?
Well, character is important, but plot is most important. I've always seen myself as a storyteller. The point is tell a story. Things have to happen. It needs to be going somewhere. When you're done, it needs to feel complete, like there was some kind of conscious, intentional resolution (even an ambiguous one). Personally, I need to feel like there was some kind of point to the books I read, and the author wasn't just jerking me around, or being completely self-indulgent. Self-expression is fine, but it's not the same thing as telling a story.

For me, you can have a story with weak characters (though it'll be a bad story). But a story with no real plot is not a story, and it shouldn't be a book. Or at least it's not a book I want to read!

You'd think this would be obvious, but I feel like I read books all the time that have virtually no story or plot.

Good point. What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
That the stories you hear about overnight sensations are exceptions to the rule, and even then, that kind of success doesn't always last. Most writers struggle in obscurity for years, with little or no acclaim or financial reward. Some eventually break out, but the vast majority do not. I think it’s interesting that I have a lot of very bitter writer-friends, but that none of my doctor or lawyer friends are bitter!

What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?
Read, swim, hike, bike, eat out with friends, walk on the beach. And not write!

Your book, Geography Club, was made into a movie. Do you have any new movies in the works?
I do! I have three movies in the works right now!

I've been working with some producers on one project, a very personal teen drama, since 2009! But it finally seems to be coming together.

My 2007 novel Project Sweet Life was just optioned by some producers, and I wrote the screenplay.

And finally, earlier this year, I had an animated movie script of mine optioned by a Chinese company. I said to my rep, "Really? But it won't be seen in the United States." He said, "It'll be seen by up to a billion people in China, and their movie industry is already three times the size of Hollywood. Their money is real!"

So I took the deal, and sure enough, their money is real.

What’s next?
Right now I'm pitching projects to different editors, which is hard (as I said), but also exciting. I've come up with three different ideas, all thrillers, and I'm dying to get a couple of them under contract so I can start writing them!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Brent Hartinger is a novelist and screenwriter. His first novel, Geography Club, was adapted as a feature film co-starring Scott Bakula, and he's since published eleven other novels, most recently, Three Truths and a Lie. As a screenwriter, Brent has three different movies in the works with various producers. Visit him at brenthartinger.com.







Connect with Brent:

Website  |  
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:

Amazon  | Barnes & Noble 

Watch the trailer:

Book trailer


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

GUEST POST WITH SARAH FOX



ABOUT THE BOOK

When Marley McKinney’s aging cousin, Jimmy, is hospitalized with pneumonia, she agrees to help run his pancake house while he recovers. With its rustic interior and syrupy scent, the Flip Side Pancake House is just as she pictured it—and the surly chef is a wizard with crêpes. Marley expects to spend a leisurely week or two in Wildwood Cove, the quaint, coastal community where she used to spend her summers, but then Cousin Jimmy is found murdered, sprawled on the rocks beneath a nearby cliff.
After she stumbles across evidence of stolen goods in Jimmy’s workshop, Marley is determined to find out what’s really going on in the not-so-quiet town of Wildwood Cove. With help from her childhood crush and her adopted cat, Flapjack, Marley sinks her teeth into the investigation. But if she’s not careful, she’s going to get burned by a killer who’s only interested in serving up trouble.





GUEST POST WITH SARAH FOX


Discovering Cozies


I've loved mysteries for as long as I can remember. The foundation for my obsession was built upon the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden books I found on my family's shelves. By about age twelve I'd discovered Agatha Christie, and from that point on I was absolutely hooked. I went on to read numerous Agatha Christie books as well as mysteries by other authors such as Elizabeth Peters, Kathy Reichs, and Elizabeth George. I also started watching mysteries on television, especially British ones like Foyle's War, Inspector Morse, Midsomer Murders, Poirot, and Miss Marple.

While I love all types of mysteries, it was when I discovered the modern cozy mystery that I truly found my favorite genre. I was in my twenties at the time. I'd just moved to a small town and was checking out the new-to-me library when I found a rack full of paperback mysteries with fun cover designs. I checked out a couple and took them home, and an avid cozy mystery reader was born.

I devoured numerous cozies and became hooked on several series, including Sheila Connolly's Apple Orchard Mysteries, Lorna Barrett's Booktown Mysteries, and Jennie Bentley's Do-It-Yourself Mysteries. I couldn't get enough of them, and I longed to be a cozy mystery author myself. At the time, however, I told myself I wouldn't be able to write a mystery, that I simply wasn't clever enough to pull it off. So I stuck with writing science fiction and fantasy, while still reading cozy after cozy.

Eventually, my desire to write a mystery became too powerful to ignore, and I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a try. Since I was so in love with cozies, it was a natural choice for me to write in that subgenre. In less than four months, I'd written Dead Ringer, the first book in the Music Lover's Mystery series. Even before I'd finished the manuscript, I knew that writing cozies was what I was meant to do. As with reading cozies, writing one made me so happy that I knew I would write more and more in the future.

Now I'm working on the Pancake House Mysteries, my second series, and I couldn't be happier. The Crêpes of Wrath was so much fun to write, and I particularly loved bringing the seaside town of Wildwood Cove to life. At this time, I'm writing the second book in the series, For Whom the Bread Rolls, and I'm enjoying the process as much as ever. Although my writing and my day job keep me busy, I still make time to read cozies on a regular basis. I have such a good time returning to familiar settings and characters, following the next adventure in a series, and I also delight in discovering new cozy series. As much as I enjoy reading and writing other types of mysteries, cozies are—and likely always will be—my true book genre love.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Sarah Fox was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she developed a love for mysteries at a young age. When not writing novels or working as a legal writer, she is often reading her way through a stack of books or spending time outdoors with her English Springer Spaniel.

Connect with Sarah:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Penguin Random House




Sunday, August 21, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: CASSIDY SALEM



ABOUT THE BOOK

Bad karma, a rival suitor, and a deadly attack are enough to put a damper on any date.
Just when Adina’s social life is looking up, her night out is interrupted by the scream of police sirens. Afraid her bartender boyfriend might be accused of murder, Adina’s neighbor enlists her assistance, and in the process exposes her to the seamier side of illegal immigration and crime in the city. Hard as she tries to limit her involvement, the more Adina learns, the more she needs to know—until a case of mistaken identity lands her in hot water. Will she uncover the truth before it’s too late? Dying for Data is the second book in the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth mystery series.


INTERVIEW WITH CASSIDY SALEM

How did you get started writing?

Like most authors, I have been writing all my life in various forms. Starting from school and college, in the context of assignments (I always did better on term papers than exams). But my writing was always semi-academic or technical in nature. I have always been an avid reader and thought about writing a book one day. Around 16 years ago, I made a career move and landed in technical writing. When you write technical manuals, your sentences must be short and concise—and almost always in the present simple tense. No room for creativity at all. Writing a novel was a way of challenging myself to be creative.

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
Plot. No doubt about it. Coming up with an original storyline. My characters seem to take care of themselves as I write.

What books do you currently have published?
I have published two books in the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth series. The first, Think Murder, was released in 2015. Dying for Data was released this week.

How often do you tweet? 

At least once a day. I also try to retweet my fellow authors whenever I have time to get on Twitter. (I don’t use any automated retweet programs.)

How do you feel about Facebook?
It’s great for keeping in touch with geographically-remote family members, and has been a great tool for networking with other indie offers. I love it, but I definitely see the need to exercise caution in what you put out there in cyberspace on any form of social media.

What’s your favorite fast food?
That’s easy. Pizza!


How do you like your pizza? Growing up, my favorite pizza was the homemade pizza my dad would make—thick crust, tomato sauce, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. I’ll occasionally make it that way at home. Even when I eat pizza out, I don’t go for all the toppings, just extra cheese.

Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?

A few little ones—I will confess to having a Diet-Coke habit and a scary loud sneeze.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

I have embarrassed myself more often than I’d care to admit. I’ll share one with you. For a while when I was in junior high school, long skirts with elastic waistbands were in style. One day, I got to school and crouched down to get something out of my locker, inadvertently stepping on the hemline. When I got up, the skirt stayed down.

Yikes! What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?

As part of a final assignment in college for a course on adolescent development, we had to write a personal development paper—how events/people had played a part in becoming who we are. I put it off forever, until I had no choice but to hunker down and do the soul-searching the task entailed.

What’s one thing that very few people know about you?
This one might qualify as an embarrassing moment—when I was in 5th grade, I broke my pinky finger kicking a ball. (No, that’s not a typo.)

What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
A picture that I took on a trip to Norway—a field full of wild Norwegian fireweed.


What’s your favorite smell?
Vanilla.


What’s your favorite color?
Blue
.

What are your favorite foods?
Chocolate, cheesecake.


What do others say about your driving?
I am directionally-challenged. Distract me for a minute and expect to take an unscheduled detour.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cassidy Salem has always been an avid reader. She is especially fond of mysteries (both cozy and traditional). Over the years, her favorite mystery authors have included Agatha Christie, Kathy Reichs, Mary Higgins Clark, and John Grisham. Cassidy also enjoys reading historical fiction focused on American and world history, as well as the classics.

Cassidy has never met a dog she didn't like—a fact that influenced her decision to have the protagonist in her mystery series volunteer at a dog rescue center.

When she's not reading, Cassidy enjoys spending time with family and friends, and travels with her husband and son whenever possible. Her travels have taken her to destinations throughout the United States and Europe.



Connect with Cassidy:
Blog  |  
Facebook  |   
Twitter  |   
Goodreads  

Buy the book:
Amazon 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: MARIA GRAZIA SWAN




ABOUT THE BOOK

When her eyes were finally opened to the truth, she couldn't recognize her own life... 
Italian-born Lella York is trying to figure out who she is. Her husband has died. Her son is grown and, for the most part, gone. And now, her best friend is missing. Upon returning to Southern California after a visit to her beloved Italy, Lella is shocked to learn the mysterious circumstances of Ruby's disappearance as well as the death of Ruby's husband. And Lella's son is the prime suspect. Her cat is not so happy about it all either! 
Now, someone's stalking Lella. Caught in the middle of it all, Lella stumbles across the perfect topper—namely, a sexy police detective who keeps secrets from her while he's setting her pants on fire. Nothing like a little romance to distract a girl while she's trying to locate a missing person, solve a possible homicide, get her son out of jail and stay two steps ahead of the firing line.


. . . A perfect murder mystery ~Dana Point Times




In a “suspenseful  . . . smooth, compulsive” read, national bestselling and award winning author Maria Grazia Swan, delivers a “can't-put-it-down kind of read, almost like a dream/nightmare that won't stop.”  ~Italophile Book Reviews

Gemini Moon was awarded the prestigious HOLT Award of Merit from the Virginia Romance Writers Association. It also received a certificate of excellence from The Heart of the West Romance Writers of America



.


INTERVIEW WITH MARIA GRAZIA SWAN


Maria, tell us about your series.

At the moment I have 2 series: Mina’s adventures with 6 books. It started out as a classic mystery, but somehow, as the writing progressed, romance got in the mix. By book two bad boy Diego had entered the pages and he’s still here, stealing my readers’ hearts. Mina, the main character is in her mid-twenty and like all my female main characters is Italian born, living in the United States.

The other series is somewhat different. Lella York’s is fifty plus, a widow with a grown son who is a movie actor. We witness her menopausal years with hot flashes and mid life crisis. Her insecurities come shining through when she meets a sexy retired detective who gets her heart racing in more ways than one. This series is more psychologically suspenseful than Mina’s adventures where there is more spontaneous action.

Again, both series have an Italian-born female character and a cat. What can I say? I’m Italian-born, living in the United States, and I’m a cat person. 

In what setting do your books take place?

I wrote my first book, Love Thy Sister-Mina’s adventures #1 while living in Orange County, California. It was only natural to use that locale. I mean, you have sandy beaches, busy freeways, golden boys, and starlets galore. A brief ride form Los Angeles or San Diego, Orange County is simply perfect. Except for book #3, Italian Summer, that I wrote when I went back home, the houses, the streets, and the cemetery are all real, along with the tears and the joys of reliving my youth while telling the story, book 4-5-6 are all set in California. I may have another book there before Mina feels the urge to revisit her beloved Italy.

As for Lella’s books, since she’s not working, she travels more. Book #1, Gemini Moon, starts out in Italy, magnificent Florence, then moves to Orange County, California where she lives and volunteers at the San Juan Capistrano Mission as a docent. Yes, I did that.  The second book, Venetian Moon, needs little explanation, takes place around Venice, places I call home. The last one, Desert Moon see our Lella in Phoenix, Arizona, the place I now call home . . . not sure about book #4, but I may have a few surprises for Lella, all associated with the Mission where as I said, I was a docent for a while.

Then again, I have a trip to Italy coming up soon . . .

Are any of your books based on real events?

Indeed all my stories have elements of truth or real events if you prefer. And most of my characters are based on real people.

Take Lella York’s book #1. The encounter with the astrologer on Ponte Vecchio? It happened to me, I changed some details and stretched the drama, but yeah . . . I did give the astrologer a false birth date . . . long story . . . not nearly as interesting as Lella’s.
And the book was inspired by the death of my good friend Yvonne. In real life she died of a gunshot to the back of the head. The shooter? Her husband. After spending years running the scenario of her death in my mind I ended up reversing the roles. I paid homage to my friend by describing Ruby just the way I remember Yvonne. Charming, pretty, petite with dark eyes and dark hair (she was part Italian), and full of life. She was the editor of a magazine. And some of the joyful scenes between Lella and Ruby are also true to life. R.I.P Yvonne.

What are you working on now?
For readers of my Lella York’s books, I have a new title in a wonderful mystery collection that will be published in October. If you like Halloween and mysteries by some of your favorite authors, you're in for a treat. That’s all I know for now.

I’m also working on a new series and some of you are probably tired of reading ‘working on’ it will definitely be out by November. All I can tell you is that I have recipes and the male character name is Tristan. My dear readers, you were the ones who voted for the name . . . remember?

And with that, I’ll say, ciao e mille grazie to Amy for kindly allowing me to share her pages for today.

Thanks for being here, Maria!

Readers, grab Gemini Moon now while it's just $0.99! And enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a $10 gift certificate to Amazon.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Best selling author Maria Grazia Swan was born in Italy, but this rolling stone has definitely gathered no moss. She lived in Belgium, France, Germany, in beautiful Orange County, California where she raised her family and is currently at home in Phoenix, Arizona—but stay tuned for weekly updates of Where in the World is Maria Grazia Swan?



As a young girl, her vivid imagination predestined her to be a writer. She won her first literary award at the age of fourteen while living in Belgium. As a young woman Maria returned to Italy to design for—ooh-la-la—haute couture. Once in the U.S. and after years of concentrating on family, she tackled real estate. These days her time is devoted to her deepest passions: writing and helping people and pets find the perfect home. 

Maria loves travel, opera, good books, hiking, and intelligent movies (if she can find one, that is). When asked about her idea of a perfect evening, she favors stimulating conversation, Northern Italian food and perfectly chilled Prosecco—but then, who doesn't? 



Connect with Maria:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Linkedin

Subscribe to Maria's newsletter.

Buy the book:
Amazon
 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: MARLA COOPER




ABOUT THE BOOK

Kelsey McKenna has planned out every detail of her client's destination wedding in San Miguel de Allende. But what she hadn't planned on was a bridesmaid dropping dead in the middle of the ceremony.

When the bride's sister is arrested for murder, the mother of the bride demands that Kelsey fix the matter at once. Although Kelsey is pretty sure investigating a murder isn't in her contract, crossing the well connected Mrs. Abernathy could be a career-killer.

Before she can leave Mexico and get back to planning weddings, Kelsey will have to deal with stubborn detectives, late-night death threats—and guests who didn't even RSVP.



INTERVIEW WITH MARLA COOPER


Marla, do you write every day?

I do, but not on purpose. I’ve never been a believer in the maxim that a writer must write, every single day, period. I think you have to go out and live your life sometimes so that you have things to write about. That said, my day job is writing, and I do a lot of writing to promote my book (like this blog!) so I find that most days I do, in fact, end up writing something. 

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
I think it’s the sense of discovery. I love when something surprises me. I am a plotter by nature, but I keep it loose because I love that moment when you write something and you’re like, “Where did *that* come from?!” I had a character in Terror in Taffeta who came so naturally that a line of dialogue would just appear on the page, and I’d literally laugh out loud because I couldn’t believe she’d said it. That’s where the magic happens.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
The main branch of the New York City Public Library is absolutely amazing. More specifically, the Rose Main Reading Room, which opened in 1911 and (one could assume) looks pretty much like it did back then. When I was working on Terror in Taffeta, I took a couple of hours out of my vacation to go write there, and it’s magical. It’s been closed for renovations for a couple of years, but it’s supposed to re-open this fall. Time to plan another trip!

What do you love about where you live?

My husband and I moved from San Francisco to Oakland six years ago. At the time, I thought we’d still hang out in San Francisco and just keep our stuff over in Oakland, but I fell in love with it almost instantly. It’s a lot more chill than SF, and it’s really come into its own in the last few years, so there’s lots of stuff to do. But the thing that took me totally by surprise is our regional park that’s almost 2,000 acres of old-growth redwood trees. There are tons of different hiking trails, and it’s pretty amazing to have that practically in my backyard.

What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
It’s a picture I took when I was in San Miguel de Allende, where my book is set. There was a little antique shop a few blocks from the main square, and they had a table set up with a vintage typewriter and an enormous coiled snake, with a carved wooden angel hovering in the background. I’m sure this is a metaphor for something to do with writing, but I haven’t come up with it yet!

Do you procrastinate?
Can I get back to you on that? It depends on how much I have to do, actually. When I’m busy, I tend to be super focused and can knock things off my to-do list like a ninja. When I’m not busy, it seems like there’s all the time in the world, so it’s easier to put things off—until they start to pile up and then suddenly I’m busy again! 

What is your writing style?
I would say breezy and conversational. My mystery series is first-person, so you get a fairly uncensored look at the inside of my main character’s brain. And even when I’m doing my day job, which is marketing and advertising copywriting, I tend to gravitate toward projects where I can talk like a real person instead of, say, technical writing or business-to-business, both of which are packed with jargon and make very little sense to the average human. 


What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?

One of my favorite diversions is playing the ukulele. Why the ukulele? Because I have never played a musical instrument in my life, and the ukulele is about as easy as it gets (with the possible exception of maracas, which don’t sound as satisfying if you’re not in a mambo band). I like that it uses a completely different part of my brain, plus, unlike so many other creative endeavors, there’s no evidence of your failure, like the lopsided vases I had to toss in the trash that were the by-product of my ill-advised attempt at wheel-thrown pottery.

What are you working on now?

I’m just wrapping up edits on the second book in the Destination Wedding Planner Mystery series. It’s set in the California wine country, and it’s called Dying on the Vine. Also? Mastering “Dream a Little Dream of Me” on the ukulele.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
The aforementioned book two gave me fits. I went down a wrong path for a while and had to ditch several chapters, and I had days where I wondered why I had ever agreed to write a mystery. Plus when you’re writing your second book you’re acutely aware that people are actually going to read it—as opposed to Terror in Taffeta, which I mostly wrote to amuse myself. But eventually it worked itself out, and now that it’s done I can look back on it and laugh.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As a freelance writer, Marla Cooper has written all sorts of things, from advertising copy to travel guidebooks to the occasional haiku. But it was while ghostwriting a nonfiction guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her current series starring destination wedding planner Kelsey McKenna. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat.

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

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble


 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

SPOTLIGHT ON CHERYL HOLLON



ABOUT THE BOOK

When a treasure hunt leads to deadly plunder, it’s up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb and her trusty investigative posse to map out the true motives of a killer . . .

It’s the dog days of summer in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Webb’s Glass Shop proprietor Savannah Webb has an eco-friendly plan to help locals escape the heat–a recyclable bottle-crafting workshop taught by reticent store manager Amanda Blake. Turns out, the class is a bigger smash than expected, thanks in part to a pair of staggeringly old bottles brought in by snorkeler Martin Lane . . .

Linked to a storied pirate shipwreck, the relics definitely pique Savannah’s interest. But intrigue turns to shock when Martin’s lifeless body washes ashore the next morning, another glass artifact tucked in his dive bag. With cell phone records connecting Amanda to the drowning, Savannah must voyage through unchartered territory to exonerate her colleague and capture the twisted criminal behind Martin’s death . . .




WHAT THEY'RE SAYING . . .

Although stained glass work and restoration is likely not something I will ever take up, still I find it fascinating and love to read about the process and the beauty of the results. Author Cheryl Hollon has thoroughly researched and experienced this topic, and makes the enthusiasm, sometimes even obsession, of her character artisans so easy to comprehend. ~Mallory Heart’s Cozies



Cheryl Hollon once again brings a novel so fun and entertaining that you get pulled in from the start.
 ~Shelley’s Book Case

I found the mystery interesting and liked the slow unraveling. It’s not that the pace or the mystery itself is slow but more that as readers we start out knowing almost nothing so there’s so much to learn and figure out.
 ~I Wish I Lived In a Library

As always, Ms. Hollon has written as excellent mystery. Detailed, riveting, and a hard one to guess! I was happily stumped all the way to the reveal.
 ~Lisa K’s Book Reviews


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cheryl Hollon now writes full-time after she left an engineering career of designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind her house in St. Petersburg, Florida, Cheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass, and painted glass artworks.



Connect with Cheryl:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble



Thursday, August 11, 2016

FEAURED AUTHOR: KATHERINE PRAIRIE


ABOUT THE BOOK

Deep in a Columbia River valley rocked by violence and tightly controlled by a U.S.-Canada military force, geologist Alex Graham joins the search for a suspected toxic spill as the victim count rises. But the lethal contamination is no accident.


INTERVIEW WITH KATHERINE PRAIRIE


What's your favorite thing about the writing process?

When I start a novel, I create a basic outline of my main plot and then I let my imagination take over. I never really know where my characters will take me or exactly what subplots might develop, so it’s like I start a new adventure every day.

Do you have a writing routine?
I like to get started early in the morning, and I usually pick-up where I left off without reviewing the previous day’s work. Sometimes I’ll write for the entire day, but most of the time I write for 3-4 hours, and then spend the rest of the day editing or working on promotional stuff. And I almost always have a cat in my lap!

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
Laying out a timeline that works. In my mind, I picture how the story works, but when I actually start writing, I’ll find that I need more/less time for something than I thought. It took me several weeks to sort out the timeline for a section of Thirst because of its fast pace, and I had to rewrite several scenes to make everything fit together just right. 

What’s more important – characters or plot?
I think plot is more important overall because it acts as the backbone of my story, and once it’s in place, my characters are free to create rich, interesting scenes.  

What’s the oldest thing you own and still use?
An enameled cast iron Le Creuset pot that I bought 35 years ago. It’s the perfect risotto pot, and although its interior is scratched and discolored, it’s still going strong.   

What do you love about where you live?
Vancouver, British Columbia gives me the ocean at my doorstep with the smell of salt air and the cry of seagulls, but it’s also only a few hours from the mountains. It’s an energetic, lively city with interesting neighborhoods, restaurants, art galleries and museums, so there’s never a shortage of things to do.

What's your favorite treat for movie night?

Without popcorn, a movie just isn’t the same. 

What is your superpower?
I’m a cat whisperer. I love cats, and they seem to know it, so I become quick friends even with strays.

Where is your favorite place to visit?
That’s a tough question to answer, because I have so many favorites! I’ll happily hop a plane to visit big cities like New York or London for the arts and culture, but I also love Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park for its dinosaur bone beds and Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim National park for its pounding surf. Of all of them, New York is the one that I’ve been to the most often, and I even called it home for a few months. 

Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?

Mostly I draw from other people I’ve met for my characters, but a few of my own bad traits show up from time-to-time. Alex Graham and I share a tendency to be a little too impulsive, and Thirst’s Dr. Eric Keenan works too much, which is something I’m always trying to keep in check.  

Have you ever killed off a character fictionally, as revenge for something someone did in real life?
Believe me, I’ve thought about it, but so far these scenes haven’t made their way into my thrillers. However, I have taken out my revenge by making things harder for my characters. Corporal Nathan Taylor is one such character–I really put the poor man through the ringer in Thirst!

What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Cherries, blueberries, and fresh peaches from the Canadian Okanagan Valley. Lots of veggies and all the ingredients for anything Greek: feta cheese, pine nuts, yogurt and black olives. And of course, there’s always a bottle of white wine!

What is the most daring thing you've done?
My very first time in a kayak, I paddled the icy waters of Antarctica. There were leopard seals nearby and they have been known to attack kayaks so I was a little freaked out, but the experience was exhilarating!

What would your main character say about you?
Alex Graham would say that I’m a damn good geologist but I spend too much time in the office and I should join her out in the field searching for gold, silver and the like.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
My author biography because I’m not very good at talking about myself. I’m fine in an interview like this one, but if you give me a blank canvas and ask me to come up with a thousand words about myself I more or less freeze.


Who is your favorite fictional character?
Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon. This artist who is a Mossad agent is an incredibly rich character, and I find him very compelling.

What’s one thing that very few people know about you?
I was only sixteen when I won a public speaking contest that rewarded me with a week in New York at the United Nations with other North American high school students. It doesn’t come up much because it happened so very long ago, but it was a pivotal moment in my life. 

What’s your favorite song?
"Hotel California" by the Eagles, both because of the great music and also because I just love the line “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” It comes to mind anytime I’ve faced with a frustrating, logic-defying situation. I had one this week, when I tried to cancel an airline ticket. I could hit the cancel button as often as I liked, but it never did anything but retrieve the ticket details!


What is your favorite movie?

Dr. Zhivago. I especially love the icy, winter scenes, and Omar Sharif and Julie Christie make the story come alive. 


What are you working on now?
The second Alex Graham suspense thriller which will take our intrepid geologist to Brazil and beyond. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katherine Prairie, a geologist and IT specialist, stepped away from the international petroleum industry to follow her passion for writing. An avid traveler with an insatiable curiosity, you never know where you’ll find her next! But most days, she’s in Vancouver, Canada quietly plotting murder and mayhem under the watchful eye of a cat. THIRST, a thriller featuring geologist Alex Graham, is her first novel.

Connect with Katherine:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble