Friday, May 31, 2013

Featured Author: Debbie Lampi

Debbie Lampi's mystery, Shadow Play, will be published on June 1 by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc. She's here today with an excerpt and to talk about books, her book, and writing in general.

About the book:

Psychiatrist Grace Rendeau struggles to make sense of her husband’s untimely death. Left a widow with two children, Grace forges a new life for her family, abandoning her private practice and moving to Minnesota to take on a prestigious position at the Rochester Forensic Center for the Criminally Insane, work that will allow her to spend more time with her children.

At the Center Grace is immersed in a maelstrom of lives in disarray, the anguish and struggle of the inmates to regain a footing in sanity and face the devastating consequences of their criminal actions. In striving to heal her patients, Grace herself finds healing, a new strength, and a sense of possibilities.

Among the possibilities is a budding romance with Alex Sawyer, a divorced doctor engaged in humanitarian work. Romance blossoms into love and Grace accompanies Alex on a medical mission to Indonesia. They return committed to a new life together.

But their joy is short lived. Grace returns home not to her children, but to an empty house – and a chilling kidnapper’s note. It makes no demands and holds out no hope for the return of the children. It is clearly an act of pure vengeance.

Suspects are legion: a disgruntled security guard at the center with a grudge against Grace; Alex’s bitter ex-wife; a recently escaped insane inmate. Enemies known and unknown haunt Grace’s every waking hour. Where are her children? What has happened to them? Who is attempting to destroy her?

Grace’s riveting story illuminates the hopes and fears of every wife or husband, mother or father, woman or man, caught in life’s turmoil and striving to overcome it.

Interview with Debbie Lampi:

Debbie, how did you come up with the title Shadow Play?

I, like, Grace Rendeau, my main character, traveled to Indonesia. In the book, Grace travels on a medical mission. I traveled there two years ago to visit my daughter in the Peace Corps. I had a wonderful experience and wanted to incorporate it into the novel. In the novel, Grace and Alex see and buy shadow puppets for Grace’s children. The Indonesian name for shadow puppet theater is: Wayang kulit, hence the name, Shadow Play.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it?

Yes. I wanted a black and white matte cover vs. a colorful glossy cover. I thought it was more in keeping with the mysterious disappearance of Grace’s children. I found the shadowy image of a little boy in a tunnel, and thought it was perfect. Fortunately, my publisher thought so too.

What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

I have read To Kill a Mockingbird several times and love it more each time. I would like to read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield again. It had a great surprise twist which unfortunately (or fortunately for me) I’ve forgotten what it was. It will be like reading it for the first time!

What’s your favorite line from a book? Have more than one?

This is a tough one but I’ll give you one. Okay two. The first is from On Love by Alain de Botton, and it’s about the narrator’s infatuation with the woman of his dreams. It’s a perfect description of the total infatuation/obsession one feels when newly in love: "....I felt ready to abandon self-absorption for the sake of total empathy, to follow Chloe into each of her possible selves, to catalogue everyone of her memories, to become a historian of her childhood, to learn of all her loves, fears, and hatreds - everything that could possibly have played itself out within her mind and body had suddenly grown fascinating..."

The second is from Marianne Williamson and was used by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our
 darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be?"

When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

No. I usually have one or two characters in mind and the others slowly make their presence known. In Shadow Play, I had the main character, Grace Rendeau, M.D. in mind and then her children came along. After a time, her co-workers and patients appeared, and finally a love interest, former in-laws, and a psychic showed up at the party!

Cool. Are any of your characters inspired by real people? Who?

Not necessarily the characters, but I’m familiar with some of the situations as a mother. The day-to-day life of children, for example. I have four children and although they are grown now, I drew on memories of their early childhood in writing Dane’s character, and Caleigh’s to a lesser extent. (My daughters were thankfully not as problematic as Caleigh!) I’ve never been to a psychic but have always wanted to, so I had a lot of fun imagining what Dayna and a visit with a psychic would be like. And, my husband is a psychiatrist in the real life Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, which the “Rochester Center for Forensic Psychiatry” is loosely based on.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

One of the scenes in the book always makes me cry. Even now after I’ve read and revised it at least fifty times, it still brings tears to my eyes. I won’t tell you what it is because I don’t want to give away the book, but if you’re a parent, you will know it when you read it.

Who are your favorite authors?

That’s a tough question. Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, Alain de Botton, Gillian Flynn, Tara French, Louse Erdrich, Jhumpa Lahiri and Mary Karr (to name a few).

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

In paperback, I’m reading Haunted Ground by Erin Hart and The Silence of the Loons, Thirteen Tales of Mystery by Minnesota’s Premier Crime Writers. In hardcover, it’s The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly. On Kindle, I’m reading The Roundhouse by Louse Erdrich and am excited to begin One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis. As the saying goes, so many little time...

So true! won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?

Weekly massages or maybe I’d hire a personal masseuse!

I'm with you there. Is there anything in particular that you do to help the writing flow?

I walk! In the past two years, I’ve walked so much, I actually ended up with a stress fracture of one foot and plantar fasciitis of the other. For me, nothing beats walking on my favorite trail for clearing my mind. It’s sort of a moving meditation. Once my mind is free, plot points that have alluded me as I’ve sat at my desk, just seem to flow naturally into my head.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

I love quotes about writing. Hemingway’s quote comes to mind first. “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

Anne Lamott had many memorable quotes in Bird by Bird, especially: “E.L. Doctorow once said that "Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."

Stephen King’s quotes from On Writing, A Memoir Of The Craft, encourage me as well. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.”

All very good and very true. I'm adding them to my writing quotes page. What three books have you read recently and would recommend?

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Beet Queen by Louse Erdrich, and Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks. 

What are you working on now?

As with reading a number of books at a time, I also work on several projects a time. Right now, I’m revising a novel called Repercussions. It’s literary fiction and, as hard as it is to write mysteries - getting clues, motivation, plot, and dark characters to all fall in place - I am finding literary fiction even more difficult to write. I am also working on another Grace Rendeau mystery novel tentatively called An Unfortunate Death and a short mystery story set in Minnesota for a mystery anthology.

Thanks for having me, Amy!  You came up with some wonderfully thought-provoking questions.

My pleasure, Debbie. Please come back when your next book comes out!

Excerpt from Shadow Play


Sometimes when it’s quiet, I remember what our lives were like before terror hovered over us like a funnel cloud. The abduction occurred on August 26, many years ago and a thousand miles away, a day that still haunts me like an unruly ghost.

My son was six years old then, my daughter thirteen. The events preceding the abduction have become as smudged as the glasses my son wore as a child, although the memories of the aftermath have never left me.

The months before the abduction were tumultuous. My husband had died of cancer and I grieved his loss. I left my private practice and went to work with inmates at the Rochester Forensic Center so that I might have more time with my children. I was a psychiatrist then.

I look at newspaper pictures taken of me soon after the abduction and do not recognize myself, so deeply are the lines of grief etched across my face. The Midwest had come to signify treachery and deceit and afterwards I moved to Rhinebeck, a small town nestled on the banks of the Hudson River and as far away as I could get from the memories. Unafraid, I sat on the riverbank and gazed at the water. It was along those riverbanks that I planned a new beginning. These are the events as they occurred.

Grace Rendeau

Chapter 1

Corrections Officer Bud Anderson fell into step with Grace halfway to the entrance. Bud Anderson was forty-three years old, over six feet tall, and as large and gray-headed as a buzzard with a military buzz cut. He fell into step beside her. “Morning, Doc. What a day, huh?”

Grace had heard through the prison grapevine that he was having marital problems. Word was that he had a core made of iron and a life mortgaged to the hilt. He also had a limb length discrepancy resulting from an injury during his service and wore an orthotic shoe with a lift. Even so, his gait was brisk and measured.

“So, how ‘ya doin’ Grace?” Anderson asked with a familiarity that set Grace on edge. He smiled. He had a space the size of a small stream through his front teeth.

Grace hadn’t had time that morning for anything but a slash of lip-gloss and a coat of brown mascara over her nearly invisible lashes. She pushed a long lock of coppery hair behind her ear, feeling as exposed under his scrutiny as if he’d unzipped her skirt and laid bare all her fears and insecurities. “It’s a beauty, Officer,” she said, her eyes drawn to the inmates.

“I wondered if you’d care to go out for lunch today?” 

Grace stared ahead and pretended not to notice the narrowing of his eyes. “Sorry, I’m busy. Maybe next time,” she said, her jaw set tight.

Bud gave her a brief, angry look. To Grace’s relief, they reached the security office before anymore could be said. She retrieved the heavy key ring, clipped it to her belt and fled to her office. Her keys jangled and her heels clicked along the cold tiled floor adding to the din in the halls. The smell of disinfectant hovered in the air. Grace unlocked her door and closed it to the chaos of the psychiatric unit. She leaned against her door, closed her eyes and for the first time that day, thought of Matt.

Before her husband’s death, she could not have imagined that her new patients would be a volatile mix of inmates incarcerated for everything from narcotics to murder. Many were living out sentences here; others had been deemed incompetent to stand trial, others had been transferred from prisons around the country for medical or psychiatric care.

Shortly after his death, Grace had gathered her remaining reserves of strength and moved to Rochester. Her new job in the forensic center was initially bearable only because she had evenings and weekends free for the children. During her days in private practice, Matt had often been both mother and father to the children but now she needed this seven thirty to five, mother’s hours job.

Beep beep beep...  Beep beep beep.... Her beeper vibrated at her hip.

“Paging Dr.Grace Rendeau. Dr. Rendeau please report to the dayroom in Psych West, stat.”
The sound of the nurse’s page echoed through the building.

Jarred into action by the page, Grace raced to the day room and then stopped stock-still to see two officers restraining her patient. Emanuel Venegas struggled, his muscles bulging underneath his olive shirt and blood splattering the walls like a Rorschach. Larry Reynolds, another inmate who had been escorted to the prison the previous day by U.S. Air Marshals, held an icepack to his face and cursed Emanuel. Aggression flowed like a geyser in the unit. Uniformed officers swarmed the dayroom like a scene from A Clockwork Orange.

“What happened?” She was still unaccustomed to the continual rage that spilled over on the unit. Grace’s heart beat like a caged bird in her chest.

Warren Hutchings, R.N., a balding, twelve-year veteran of the unit, the size of a minivan, stood in a wide-legged stance. “I gave 'em their meds and as soon as I turned my back, Emanuel punched him in the face. I heard the sound of cracking and turned to see blood spurting out of Reynolds’ nose. Then they were on the floor rolling, both of ‘em throwing punches.”

What a way to start the day. “Emanuel, I’m going to have to put you in the hole. You know the rules. Please escort Mr. Venegas to solitary,” Grace instructed Officer Anderson.

Bud was as firmly in command of the situation as a colonel in charge of an offensive. He clamped cuffs on Emanuel’s wrists. “Please escort him to security?” He stifled a laugh. “You’re barking up the wrong tree if you think that’s gonna work around here. Around here, we say, ‘throw him in the hole.’ You’ve gotta learn to toughen up if you wanna survive in this place, Doc.”

Grace despised the smugness with which he expressed his opinions. She pulled herself up to her full five feet eight inch height. “I’m as capable as anyone else of working here. I’m not going to dehumanize my patients on your advice, Officer.” So much for having my back, she thought, donning sterile gloves.  “Mr. Reynolds, are you okay? Let me take a look at your nose.”

Blood dripped from his nostrils and pooled on the floor. “I’m okay, Doc, just get me outta here. I don’t wanna be anywhere near that lunatic.” He spit a mouthful of blood onto the floor.

“I’m going to have to send you for x-rays. Mr. Hutchings, will you arrange for transport to the ER please?” I should probably say ‘Get him to the ER STAT’, Grace thought. “And get the hazard team to clean up.”

“Yeah, no problem.” Hutchings opened a wad of sterile bandages. “Hold these to your nose, man.”

Grace peeled off the gloves, washed her hands and went to the hole – a seclusion room devoid of everything but a sink, urinal and thin mattress on the floor. Emanuel rocked rhythmically in a corner of his cell, with his knees drawn into his chest and his arms clenched around his shins. Despair oozed from his pores. Thin morning light sifted in from the high barred windows and illuminated thick, wormy veins protruding from his hands. He reached his arms toward the window, apparently hallucinating.

About the author:

D.A. Lampi was born in Fishkill, New York and grew up in a community of Finnish immigrants with whom she danced the polka, attended a bi-weekly community sauna, and enjoyed skinny dipping afterwards in the  cold waters of the Fishkill Creek.

She attended New York University and The New School for Social Research where she earned her Master of Arts in psychology. Her favorite class in college? American Literature.
Ms. Lampi has worked as a psychiatric emergency room nurse, a mental health therapist, a second grade teacher, a yoga instructor and writer. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime.

After living in Puerto Rico for fifteen years and experiencing her share of hurricanes, Ms. Lampi now happily resides in Minnesota where she writes and takes long walks, weather permitting. Her first novel, Shadow Play, will be published by North Star Press on June 1, 2013.

Website | Facebook | Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Featured Author: Lesley Cookman

Cozy Mystery Book Tours brings Lesley Cookman to A Blue Million Books today to talk about her latest book, Murder In The Monastery, from the Libby Sarjeant mystery series published by Accent Press.

About the book:

The eleventh book in the Libby Sarjeant series of British murder mysteries which features a retired actress as the female sleuth and are based in the picturesque village of Steeple Martin.

Libby Sarjeant is invited to look into the provenance of a jeweled Anglo-Saxon reliquary which has appeared on a website. The nuns at St Eldreda’s Abbey are curious, as it apparently contains a relic of St Eldreda herself. Libby’s friend Peter obtains permission to mount a play based on St Eldreda’s story in the ruins of the original monastery called, naturally, Murder In The Monastery. And then, inevitably, a real body is discovered, and Libby and her friend Fran find out that this is not the first.

Interview with Lesley Cookman:

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

I’ve been writing for a living for over thirty years, beginning with features in Which Computer at the beginning of the Desktop revolution.

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

As all the books start with the word “murder,” it’s frequently a committee decision between me, the publisher, my editor, and the sales director!

Do you have another job outside of writing?

No, thank goodness! It’s keeping me solvent for at least the next two years until the current contract runs out!

How did you create the plot for this book?

By picking ideas out of the air and trying to piece them together.

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

I never outline until I’m about three chapters in and I know vaguely what it’s about. Then I’ll try and do a bit of forward - or possibly backward - planning. But as things leap up in the text, I have to follow them to see if they fit.

Did you have any say in your cover art? 

Yes, the cover is always discussed, and I not infrequently get my own way! However there is an overall look to the covers since the redesign last year, so I merely suggest images. I don’t know anything about the designer, I’m afraid.

What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

Honestly, too many to list here.  I have shelves and shelves of books of my own, those inherited from my parents and my childhood books. I have read them all more than once, and in most cases, several times.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” I don’t need to tell you where that comes from, do I? ;-)

Ah! From I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. That is a good one. How do you get to know your characters?

They tend to appear fully formed, so I know what they feel and how they speak. If I don’t have an immediate picture of them in my head, it’s probably not a good idea to include them.

When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

No! Only my main protagonist and the regular cast members (who are now listed in the front of every book).

Are you like any of your characters?

My family and friends say Libby Sarjeant is my alter ego, and in a way, I suppose she is. She doesn’t look like me, and she’s younger than I am, but a lot of my opinions come spouting out of her mouth! I’m not as brave - or as foolhardy - as she is, but we have an acting background in common, and we are both involved in local theatre.

Who are your favorite authors?

Ngaio Marsh, Carter Dickson/John Dickson Carr, P G Wodehouse, Jerome K Jerome, Dodie Smith, Katie Fforde, Christina Jones...shall I stop there?

What are your favorite books...

a) as a child The Swish of The Curtain by Pamela Brown, and all Malcolm Saville’s and
b) as a teenager I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, all  Georgette Heyer’s and P G Wodehouse’s books, 
c) as an adult) all the foregoing and all the books by the authors I previously mentioned. Once read, always re-read.

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

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton in paperback

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I ignore it as far as possible. We can’t please all the people all the time, and my books won’t appeal to everybody.

Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?

In the afternoon - but when the deadline’s looming (like now - three weeks away!) I’ll be working as much as possible.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

In my office in the afternoon.

Where’s home for you? 

A seaside town in Kent, England.

Would you like a visitor? Just kidding. Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?

Keep writing. When you’re paid to write, you can’t have writer’s block!

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

Read! What else? And thank you for asking me to be a guest on your blog.

You're welcome! Thanks for being here.

About the author:

Lesley Cookman started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many Woolworth’s exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she’s been grown up, following a varied career as a model, air stewardess and disc jockey, she’s written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories from Accent Press in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign. The Libby Sarjeant series is published by Accent Press, who also publish her book, How to Write a Pantomime, with a foreword by Roy Hudd. Lesley is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association. Links to their sites are listed below.

Lesley’s pantomimes are published by Jasper Publishing.

Connect with Lesley Cookman:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon 

Cozy Mystery Book Tours is giving away a prize of a $25 gift card or Paypal cash. To enter the giveaway fill out the online form here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Featured Author: Marie Astor

Catching The Bad Guy is the just-published sequel to Marie Astor's How To Catch a Bad Guy, and she shares an excerpt of it with us today. Marie is also hosting a giveaway. Anyone who leaves a comment on Marie’s tour page will be entered. If you purchase a copy of Catching the Bad Guy before June 10 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will receive five bonus entries! Want to receive more bonus entries? Get one point for liking Marie's Facebook page, and one point for becoming Marie's fan on Goodreads! Five individual winners will receive a piece of jewelry shown to the right, and one bonus winner will receive a $20 Amazon gift card! Please note this is open to US residents only.

About the book:

Janet Maple and Dennis Walker make a good team: she is a top-notch white collar crime investigator, and so is he. Both Janet and Dennis are thrown for a loop when Janet’s treacherous snake of an ex-boyfriend, Alex Kingsley, is appointed as their new boss, and the case that was supposed to be the highlight of their careers is dismissed for lack of evidence.
To make matters worse, Alex is asking Janet to get back together, and the one man she wishes would ask her out sees her as nothing more than a coworker. Janet’s love life soon becomes the least of her worries, as she begins to suspect that Alex’s rekindled interest in her is driven by ulterior motives. She is determined to get to the bottom of things, but she can’t do it alone.

Together, Janet and Dennis team up to solve a tangled white collar crime web that leads to powerful politicians and corporate executives. Armed with their keen instincts and skills, Janet and Dennis are bound to succeed. There is just one glitch: both are attracted to each other, and both refuse to admit it. Will Janet and Dennis solve the biggest case of their careers or will their attraction to each other get in the way?

Excerpt from Catching The Bad Guy

Sensing Dennis’s glance, the brunette shot him a direct look and their eyes locked for a moment. If he had not been waiting for Janet, Dennis might have explored this highly enticing opportunity. As it were, he would have to pass. But then whom was he kidding? Ever since he had met Janet Maple, all the women he knew and any new women he met became just that: random women. Of course he knew that he had no one to blame but himself. Janet liked him; he was sure of it. The only problem was that he liked her too. The intense sensation he felt whenever he was in the presence of Janet Maple was an emotion that ran much deeper than mere attraction. Such emotions were against Dennis Walker’s code of conduct. When it came to women, he liked to keep things simple, with no strings attached. Besides, Janet and he were coworkers, and no other combination had the makings of disaster written all over it like two dating coworkers.

Dennis had hoped that his latest conquest, Shoshanna, would free him from Janet. An heiress to a gym chain, Shoshanna was a twenty-seven-year-old voluptuous brunette. Dennis had met her in one of those swanky lounges. Surrounded by a pack of girlfriends, she was obviously bored by the types of men who were trying to gain her attention. Most men would have been intimidated to single out a woman surrounded by a fleet of girlfriends, but Dennis Walker was not most men. He had a gift when it came to picking up women in bars. A big part of this gift was his ability to guess a woman’s favorite drink—a skill that mostly consisted of keen powers of observation and generous tips to the bartenders. After supplying the bartender with a twenty, Dennis learned that Shoshanna had been drinking lychee martinis all night. Just as her glass was about to become empty, Dennis had the bartender place another lychee martini in front of her. As Shoshanna’s eyes lazily scanned the crowd for the source of this sign of attention, Dennis raised his glass to her from his corner of the bar. She smiled back, and within minutes Dennis was sitting next to her, chatting. That had been two months ago, and they had just returned from a trip to Turks and Caicos. The only problem was that Dennis had spent the entire vacation picturing Janet in a bikini.

About the author:

Marie Astor is a die-hard romantic, which is why she loves writing in the contemporary romance genre.

Marie Astor is the author of the Janet Maple romantic suspense series: To Catch a Bad Guy and Catching the Bad Guy, contemporary romance novels This Tangled Thing Called Love, Lucky Charm, Smitten at First Sight, and a short story collection, A Dress in a Window. Marie is also the author of young adult fantasy adventure novel, Over the Mountain and Back. Marie’s next novel, book three of the Janet Maple Series, is expected to be released in late fall of 2013.

In her spare time, Marie enjoys being adventurous out-of-doors. She often gets new story ideas while she is hiking up a mountain or trying to avoid bumping into a tree while skiing.

Marie loves hearing from her readers and always answers all of her email personally. Please visit to join Marie’s mailing list for updates on contests and new book releases or drop her a line at

Buy the book:
Kindle | iTunes | Kobo 

             More books by Marie Astor

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Featured Author: Cindy Blackburn

Cindy Blackburn is the author of Playing With Poison, the first book in the Cue Ball Mysteries series. Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction's main character, Tess Tramaine, got to sit down for a chat with Playing With Poison's Wilson Rye.

About the book:

Pool shark Jessie Hewitt usually knows where the balls will fall and how the game will end. But when a body lands on her couch, and the cute cop in her kitchen accuses her of murder, even Jessie isn't sure what will happen next.

Playing With Poison is a cozy mystery with a lot of humor, a little romance, and far too much champagne.

About the character:

Captain Wilson Rye is the chief homicide detective of the Clarence, North Carolina Police Department. Forty-eight, widower, one son in college. Rye thought he could handle anything. Then he met Jessie Hewitt.

Tess's Interview with Wilson Rye:

Wilson, your series is a humorous romantic cozy mystery. How did you first meet Cindy Blackburn?

In Jessie’s condo. Jessie and I were standing over the dead body of Stanley Sweetzer. It wasn’t the best Friday night I’ve ever had.

Want to dish about her?

About Cindy? The woman always takes Jessie’s side. The two of them are in cahoots.

Well...duh...women have to stick together. Of course they're in cahoots. So tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

When I won a pool game against Jessie. The woman’s a shark, and the look on her face when the eight-ball fell? Priceless.

Competitive much? If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?

When Jessie accused me of thinking she was an ugly, old, bitch murderer, I probably should have denied all of the above. Instead, I just told her she’s not ugly. Not my brightest moment.

Typical male move, if you don't mind my saying so, bless your heart. Do have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?

Yep. But you’re not expecting me to tell you, are you? Cindy will have to work to learn my secrets. Just like Jessie does.

Well aren't you a little dickens. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do? And leave Cindy out of this.

Go fishing on Lake Lookadoo with my son Chris. Spend the night with Jessie. Don’t tell her I said that.

Um...Wilson...remember when I said girls have to stick together? I'm pretty sure she's gonna find out about that one. What’s the best trait your author has given you?

Cindy gave me lots of good traits--I’m handsome and smart, and I like cats.

What’s the worst?

Cindy insists that I’m impatient. She might have a point. 

A man who's impatient. Shocking. What do you like best about Jessie? Least?

Least—the woman drives me crazy. Best—the woman drives me crazy.

Oh my. Okay...well...What aspect of your author’s writing style do you like best?

Cindy doesn’t pussy-foot around. Her books are fast reads. She cuts out the garbage.

Good trait to have in a writer. Describe an average day in your life.

I take care of my cats, call my son (Chris is in college), catch criminals, and argue with Jessie. Usually in that order.

There are currently three published books in the series. Will you talk her into more?

Yes. But Cindy and Jessie already had a sequel planned, even before I walked into Jessie’s condo that first night. They’re right now in cahoots writing book four of the Cue Ball Mysteries—-Four Play.

Well. That's interesting title. I hope you'll come back when it's released. And bring Jessie next time. Okay?

Other books in the Cue Ball Mysteries series:

About the author:

Cindy Blackburn has a confession to make--she does not play pool. It's that whole eye-hand coordination thing. What Cindy does do well is school. So when she's not writing silly stories she's teaching serious history. European history is her favorite subject, and the ancient stuff is best of all. The deader the better! A native Vermonter who hates cold weather, Cindy divides her time between the south and the north. During the school year you'll find her in South Carolina, but come summer she'll be on the porch of her lakeside shack in Vermont. Cindy has a fat cat named Betty and a cute husband named John. Both are extremely lovable. When Cindy isn't writing or grading papers, she likes to take long walks or paddle her kayak around the lake. Her favorite travel destinations are all in Europe, her favorite TV show is NCIS, her favorite color is orange, and her favorite authors (if she must choose) are Joan Hess and Spencer Quinn. Cindy dislikes vacuuming, traffic, and lima beans.

Connect with Cindy:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Monday, May 27, 2013

Featured Author: Larissa Reinhart

Larissa Reinhart is touring with Cozy Mystery Book Tours to talk about her novel, Still Life in Brunswick Stew, published by Henery Press. Larissa's book is a humorous southern mystery with quirky characters. What's not to love?

About the book:

Cherry Tucker’s in a stew. Art commissions dried up after her nemesis became president of the County Arts Council. Desperate and broke, Cherry and her friend, Eloise, spend a sultry summer weekend hawking their art at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off. When a bad case of food poisoning breaks out and Eloise dies, the police brush off her death as accidental. However, Cherry suspects someone spiked the stew and killed her friend. As Cherry calls on cook-off competitors, bitter rivals, and crooked judges, her cop boyfriend get steamed while the killer prepares to cook Cherry’s goose.

Interview with Larissa Reinhart:  

Larissa, it's no secret I love your genre. Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

No real people, although one of my characters was inspired by another character. Max Avtaikin, Halo’s notoriously rich foreigner and Cherry’s mental sparring partner. Max hails from an unnamed ex-Eastern bloc country, collects War Between the States artifacts, and hosts illegal poker in his basement. He was inspired by the rich Russian with the tiny giraffe in the Direct TV ads. I loved those commercials.

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

Cherry’s friend Leah is level-headed, a talented singer and musician, and patient with Cherry. Leah’s mother is too controlling, but Leah has all the virtues I wish I had. Particularly a tall, curvy body which she hides behind shapeless, ruffly, grandma clothes. I would ditch the clothes and walk around in a bikini. Maybe.

To be Cherry for a day would be fun, though...

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?

Hmmm. Maybe Cherry’s brother Cody because he’s a genius mechanic. If we were on the S.S. Minnow’s three hour cruise, Cody would have fixed that boat by episode two and sent us back to Hawaii.

Now if I didn’t want to leave the island....probably Luke. Or Max, he entertains me. Todd’s pretty yummy, too. All three might be fun.

Where’s home for you?

I grew up in Andover, Illinois, a farming town of six hundred founded by Swedes. My parents moved to this town from another part of the state, whereas most of the people living there were from the area, so I spent my childhood feeling like I were stuck in an anthropology project. Of course, at eight I didn’t know anthropology. I did know I wasn’t Swedish.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

We live in Peachtree City, Georgia, a planned community with a ninety mile network of golf cart paths set in a heavily wooded twenty-four square mile area. What’s weird is to see people driving golf carts while walking their dogs. What’s nice is taking my children to and from school on golf carts. I’ve lived here for fourteen years and I still find it beautifully odd.

It sounds wonderful. Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?

Of course, although getting writer’s block is nothing as dramatic as you see in the movies. When I can’t seem to move forward in a story, that means I’ve done something wrong. I have to back up, reread, and rewrite. Kind of like driving down the wrong street and having to turn around to go back and find my route.

Is there anything in particular that you do to help the writing flow?

Showers are the best for finding your muse! What is it about showers? Long drives, too. Sitting in church. Singing actually helps me. I am inspired by country music when I’m writing Cherry Tucker. I’ll drive and sing and ideas just pop into my head. I think it’s a zen thing of emptying your mind while keeping your hands (or mouth) busy.

I totally agree. I get ideas while driving too. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

My family loves to travel. We’ve lived in Japan, and my little girls are excellent travelers. They are good with local or exotic destinations, will eat almost anything, and find other cultures fascinating. We’re really lucky. My daughters are adopted from China, so we spent our first moments with them in hotel rooms!

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

I’m pretty happy where I am, but my family and I do miss Japan. We loved living there. I think we could live most anywhere, but I’d probably complain a lot if we were someplace really cold.

What are you working on now?

I’m doing my revisions for the third Cherry Tucker mystery coming out in November, Hijack In Abstract. I’ve also got a Cherry Tucker prequel novella that will be in The Heartache Motel, a mystery anthology coming out in December. The anthology is set in the Heartache Motel, a total dive, in Memphis. There’s many crazy Elvis inspired adventures set at that motel. It’s been fun to write with my Henery Press friends, Terri L. Austin and LynDee Walker.

Excerpt from Still Life in Brunswick Stew

The officials had abandoned the booth for the cook-off, but a gigantic source of distraction did stand in the empty tent. With hands on his hips, he surveyed the flyers scattered over a picnic table. When you’re five foot and a half inch, any guy over six foot is big, but this particular man would put a steroid-infused Soviet weight lifter to shame. A frown twisted his mouth and his glacier blue eyes appeared troubled.

I hesitated at offering help. Max Avtaikin might be a supporter of the arts, but he had a dubious criminal background. And I kind of accused him of murder a few months back. Which is just plain embarrassing.

Before I could skedaddle, Max turned and caught me gawking.

I skimmed a hand over my limp, blonde ponytail, flapped the sweat off my neon pink halter, and entered the booth. “Hey, Mr. Max. You need help?”

He leaned in for one of those European double kisses. “Cherry Tucker. A pleasure, as always. Do you have the artist stand?”

It took me a second to understand his meaning. Max grew up in one of those Eastern bloc countries when they were still more bloc than country. Using his wily business acumen, he got rich and then got the hell out of Dodge. He settled in small town Georgia because of his odd love for the War Between the States. His accent moved with him.

“I’m selling little oils,” I said. “Still lifes mostly. And trying to advertise my portraiture business. I’ve got a booth with my friend, Eloise Parker. She does pottery. You should check it out.”

“I am wanting to see this art works, but I was asked to judge a food competition,” Max said.


“You sound surprised, Miss Tucker.”

“I just thought, with your, uh, recent trouble, folks would kind of...”

“I am involving in the community services.” He shifted his stance. “You disapprove?”

“Helping the community is a good start.”


“You’re still playing cards in your basement?” I asked, referring to his illegal poker games busted a few months ago. Men like Max would play it cool for a while, but find a stealthier way to restart their business. Some folks don’t care about local vice if it’s kept indoors. There’s a history of juke joints and moonshining in rural Georgia that’s transferred to other realms in the modern era. However, I grew up around a county sheriff and know for a fact that doings behind doors eventually seep outside and run havoc elsewhere.

“I’m not understanding your meaning,” he said.

“Oh, I think you do. But it’s none of my business.”

“That didn’t stop your interest a few months ago.”

I fiddled with my sunglasses, wondering what good manners dictated in this situation. Grandma Jo never covered apologies for accusing criminals of the wrong crime. “Well, I hope you’re not messing around with poker anymore.”

“I like games,” Max paused. “And you do, too.”

We shared a long look. I had an inkling Max had some tricks up his sleeve that might warrant closer scrutiny. And oddly enough, he seemed to enjoy baiting me. Maybe he missed the excitement of outsmarting the secret police in his old country. I couldn’t help a small shiver of pleasure at the thought of Max finding me a worthy opponent. Although he probably just found my antics amusing.

I gave Max a half-hearted shrug to show this rabbit wasn’t about to sniff around his traps. If he wanted to corrupt Halo with his shady dealings, well, he just better be careful. I was dating a deputy.

“I have noticed you no longer have use of my nickname,” Max said, steering the conversation down a different current.

“You want me to call you Bear?” Max’s shadier cohorts called him The Bear.

“You used to call me Bear.” He stroked his chin. “Maybe there is significance to your more formal manner?”

A shriek cut off our conversation. “Dangit, I’m missing the fight.” Thankful for the excuse, I fled the stuffy tent.

Max caught up with me in two strides. “What is this fight? A boxing match?”

“Maybe boxing if we’re lucky. Probably just some smart mouthing and shoving.”

“Is this usual at the American festival?”

“America, I’m not sure. But Sidewinder, you bet. Partly it’s the weather. My Grandpa says Southerners used to handle the heat until everyone got air conditioning. You find a shady spot for fishing or sit on your porch and wait for the sun to go down. Now we’re running around in the sun like stray dogs working up a lather.”

Judging by that shriek, it sounded like a stray dog howling up a storm.

And that stray dog sure sounded a lot like Shawna Branson.

About the author:

Larissa Reinhart loves small town characters, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. Still Life in Brunswick Stew (May 2013) is the second in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series. The first, Portrait of a Dead Guy, is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. She lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Visit her website, her Facebook page, or find her chatting with the Little Read Hens on Facebook.

Connect with Larissa!
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Buy the book:
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Featured Author: Joanne Lessner

Cozy Mystery Book Tours brings Joanne Lessner here today to talk about her novel, Bad Publicity. Hopefully, we'll give her some good publicity! And if you're lucky, she might give you something too. Cozy Mystery Book Tours is giving away three Kindle copies of the book to three random readers who leave a comment. So don't forget to comment!

About the book:

In the world of PR, there's only one crime worse than killing a deal--killing a client.

Aspiring actress and office temp Isobel Spice finds a warm welcome at Dove & Flight Public Relations, thanks to her old school friend Katrina Campbell. However, the atmosphere chills considerably when Isobel unwittingly serves an important client a deadly dose of poisoned coffee. Her stalwart temp agent, James Cooke, rushes to her aid, but balks when he learns that the victim was the fraternity brother who got him expelled from college. News that Dove & Flight is being acquired by an international conglomerate quickly supplants the murder as the hot topic of office gossip, but Isobel is convinced the two events are related. When all roads of inquiry lead back to Katrina, Isobel is forced to consider the possibility that her friend's killer instincts go beyond public relations.

Interview with Joanne Lessner:

Joanne, Bad Publicity is your third novel. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

It started when I had to type a term paper for English my junior year in high school. My dad brought home an electric typewriter (yeah, I’m dating myself), and I was having so much fun typing that I kept going—and a novel came out!

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I work in corporate and financial public relations, which is one reason Bad Publicity was so much fun to write. I also review recordings and performances for Opera News. See? There is something practical you can do with a B.A. in Music!

Good to know--my son plans to major in music! How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)

Jason Whiteley never should have had that second cup of coffee. Isobel Spice never should have served it.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it?

Yes, I worked very closely with my designer, Linda Pierro. She’s one of the publishers at Flint Mine Press, the niche imprint that put out my first (non-mystery) novel, Pandora’s Bottle. I loved that cover so much that when I needed one for The Temporary Detective, I went directly to Linda. She always reads the entire book, which I think many designers don’t take the time to do. For The Temporary Detective, we talked a lot about creating a look we could carry through the series, and because there’s something just the tiniest bit retro about it, she wanted a hint of “girl detective.” My favorite thing is the Isobel icon. At first I wasn’t sure about going monochromatic, but as I add more books, I think it’s really going to pay off. I hope to have a whole rainbow of Isobel Spice novels!

That would be cool. What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

I re-read Elizabeth Jane Howard’s four Cazalet books every five years or so. I just love them. I’ve read the Harry Potter books multiple times, including out loud to my kids. Even after they were old enough to read for themselves, they still preferred the one-woman show. And except for a few that really stick in my mind, I’ve forgotten all the perpetrators in Agatha Christie, so I think I can safely revisit her.

Tell us a book you’re an evangelist for.

I recently discovered Kate Ross. She was a Boston-based trial lawyer who wrote four mysteries before she died of cancer at a forty-one. Her books feature Regency dandy Julian Kestrel. They’re all wonderful, but the best one is the last, The Devil in Music. I think it’s an exceptionally well-crafted mystery and there’s such depth and detail that it really transcends the genre in the best way. I even made my husband read it, and he’s not really into either traditional mysteries or historical fiction. I was very smug when he sat up late several nights in a row, unable to put it down.

What do you do to market your book?

All the usual stuff: Facebook, Twitter. I don’t have my own blog, although I know it’s recommended. But I love contributing guest posts! With Pandora’s Bottle, I sold a lot of books at wine festivals, since it’s about what happens to a man who buys a half-million-dollar bottle of Bordeaux once owned by Thomas Jefferson. I suppose I could hang around the Equity building and try to sell my Isobel books to actors, but they tend not to have as much discretionary cash.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Delphi is based on my friend Kate, who was, indeed, the first actor friend I made after moving to New York. She’s a very gifted actress and director who really shines in Shakespeare. Sunil was inspired by a friend’s ex-boyfriend who was an Indian Jew. I didn’t even know they existed! Physically, James is modeled on the temp agent who took a chance on me when I first moved to New York, but the similarity ends there. And, um, my victims were inspired by certain irritating people I was forced to work with over the years.

I love doing that! Are you like any of your characters?

Isobel is an idealized version of me at twenty-three. She’s a lot quicker on her feet and more resourceful than I was. But I’m letting her make the same rookie mistakes I did. Oh, and neither of us knows when to shut up.

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?

Oh, my God, I think they’d all drive me crazy.

What real people would you most like to be stuck on an island with?

My husband and kids. They would also drive me crazy, but somehow it’s different.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

I love the scene where Isobel and Hugh are on their way out to dinner and they run into James. It’s awkward enough, but then this annoying gym rat who’s been stalking James shows up, and suddenly it’s Isobel’s turn to be jealous. It’s wonderfully squirmy all around, especially since the girl from the gym is sort of Isobel times ten. It’s primarily a backstory scene, but I think it’s my favorite.

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix her?

J.K. Rowling. I am in awe of her. I like to think we have something in common since we share the same name and were born the same year, but she’s really in a class by herself. I’d make my husband cook. He’s the one with the entertaining gene. Besides, I’d probably be so nervous I’d burn everything.

Where’s home for you?

I’ve been proud to call myself a New Yorker for twenty-five years.

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

The Complete Works of Shakespeare. They say there are only nine plots and Shakespeare invented them all, so I think I’d be pretty well covered.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

I worked in a bookstore when I was in graduate school, and I was allowed to use it as my own private library. I could borrow books and return them, provided they were still pristine, so that’s the best of both worlds.

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

Elizabeth Bennet.

She's my pick too! What’s one of your favorite quotes?

From James Thurber: “Don’t get it right, get it written.”

Love it. Thank you, Joanna!

About the author:

Joanne Sydney Lessner is the author of BloodWrites Award-Winner The Temporary Detective, which introduces Isobel Spice, aspiring actress and resourceful office temp turned amateur sleuth. Isobel’s adventures continue in Bad Publicity. Joanne’s debut novel Pandora’s Bottle (Flint Mine Press) was named one of the top five books of 2010 by Paperback Dolls, and all three books are Awesome Indies Selections. No stranger to the theatrical world, Joanne enjoys an active performing career, and with her husband, composer/conductor Joshua Rosenblum, has co-authored several musicals, including the cult hit Fermat’s Last Tango and Einstein’s Dreams, based on the celebrated novel by Alan Lightman. Her play, Critical Mass, received its Off Broadway premiere in October 2010 as the winner of the 2009 Heiress Productions Playwriting Competition.

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Featured Author: Kate Bishop

Breathe is a romantic comedy published by Diversion Books and written by Kate Bishop, who actually isn't one person, but the pen name for three authors who have combined their collective strengths to write as one. See "Kate's" guest post below for a more in-depth explanation of who Kate Bishop is. Thanks to Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours for bringing Kate by today.

About the author:

Kate Bishop is the collective spirit of three friends with a shared passion for writing, yoga and a good, old-fashioned (or New Age) love story. Breathe was inspired by their experiences both on and off the mat and was born of a genuine desire to throw some love, light and laughter into the mix.

Kristin Tone graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in Psychology and received an M.A. in Education from Lesley University. A yoga teacher and an educator, she currently teaches at PS1 Pluralistic School in Santa Monica, California.

Talie Kattwinkel earned a degree in Women’s Studies and Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. She currently specializes in bodywork and healing.

Bridget Evans attended the University of Maryland where she studied education. She taught in the Marin County school system for ten years and co-created OUTWORD, an outdoor writing program for children. She is also a yoga teacher. All three women are mothers to small children.

About the book:

Alex thought she had married the man of her dreams: successful, gorgeous, and delighted by her small-town charm. When he walks out six months later, proclaiming to have 'found himself' (with the help of a stunning yoga teacher), she 'finds herself' alone in an unfamiliar city, vengefully drinking through his prized wine collection, living on takeout, and refusing to answer the door. When this fails to cure her broken heart and bruised ego, she reluctantly allows her new friends to intervene. Slowly, Alex learns to define success on her own terms; she discovers the secret to love in all its forms, and the perfect flying crow pose, one breath at a time.

Interview with Kate Bishop:

I'm guessing the title Breathe has to do with more than just yoga. How did you come up with it?

Our agents actually came up with the title. We knew we wanted something short, simple and fun. It was Yogalicious for a while, then Yogarilla. After trying on many other titles, we all agreed Breathe best captured the essence of the book. Although yoga is a part of Alex’s journey, the book is about personal transformation and love. We were afraid the other titles might alienate those who don’t identify with yoga. Alex certainly wouldn’t have read it.

How did you create the plot for Breathe?

We knew we wanted to write a romantic comedy with yoga as the backdrop. As three writers/friends, we talked often about our aspirations and creative pursuits. At some point, we realized we had a collective story to tell. We began to meet at coffee shops in the early morning and late in the evening, as we had jobs and kids that filled daytime hours. We shared observations of transformation in ourselves and our students. We shared our love stories and our heartbreaks, uncovering common threads. Breathe took shape one chapter a time, one cup of coffee at a time.

Do you all outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

A little of each. We began with a rough idea of where we were headed, but our characters dictated much of the journey. We heeded Steph Cocker’s wise words, “If blown off course, simply change your destination.” We were often surprised by where we found ourselves.

Sophie’s choice: Do you have a favorite of your characters?

We love Andy. We created him to love and be loved.

Where do your characters' names come from?

It’s an intuitive process. Names just sort of materialize, and we sit with them for a while. Most often, they’re spot on. Occasionally, we inadvertently chose the name of a person in one of our lives and were forced to grapple with a new one. When this occurred, we did an Internet search, found an extensive list of names and tried them on the character one at a time - until we were all satisfied. It took awhile.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people? Who?

All of our characters have pieces of each of us and people we have met along the way. No character is based on any one person. Tripp was a compilation of all of our dating errors. Andy was the sum of everything we’ve loved in men. Everyone has encountered a Haley at some point. And Nancy is the woman who we all hope to become. She wears life like a loose, designer shirt.

Are any of you like your characters?

We all really identified with our protagonist, Alex: her humanity, her judgment, her earnest attempt to rise above it and her many stumbling blocks along the way.

Who are your favorite authors?

Anne Lamott, Barbara Kingsolver, Suzanne Collins, Emily Bronte, Jeffrey Eugenides, Sena J. Naslund, Stephanie Meyer, Wally Lamb, Brene Brown.

What book are you all currently reading and in what format?

The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh (e-book)

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (paper)

Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg (e-book)

How do you handle criticism of your work?

Of course it stings, but we know we can’t expect everyone to love the book. We have received such positive feedback that the few negative responses are cushioned. We are so grateful for all the support and encouragement and, to be honest, the negative reviews seem to have taken some effort and a very thorough read. Passion over indifference is always favorable, right?

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

As a trio with small children and jobs, most writing happens when the world is asleep. We write between the hours of 9pm and 5am. We love those quiet hours.

So I'm guessing you all don't sleep. Yikes. What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“So we show up. Burn brightly in the moment. Live passionately. Hold nothing back. And when the moment is over and the work is done we step back and let go.” -Rolf Gates

What are you working on now?

Alex and Andy, Part 2

Guest post:

As three authors, our writing process can be difficult to distill for people. Much of it is organic and we often attribute our success (the ability to write a book as a composite) to chemistry. We, the Kate Bishop three or KBT, are very close and were friends before writing Breathe. We each have very personal and sometimes divergent relationships with writing and our styles reflect this. One of us is the visionary, bringing idea after idea to the writing table. One of us feverishly stitches the story together. And one of us is a wordsmith, deliberate, attending to details, grammar and flow. We’ve likened our journey to the crafting of a garment or the building of a house. The designer, the seamstress, and the quality control supervisor. 

What was interesting was that we began rigid in our roles, but as the book materialized, we each found ourselves assuming new positions. Flowing from one to the next. We resisted any tendency to be territorial, as we knew, in order to succeed, we needed to trust each other and the process. We respect one another deeply as people and as writers, and we returned to this again and again.

Our over-arching goal was to create a book that was fun and light, yet addressed the deeper conflicts we encounter in love and life. Beginning with a rough map of where we were headed, we each wrote a chapter in sequence, never writing two in a row in order avoid the dominance of one voice. We then rewrote each other’s chapters- many times- allowing the voice of three to become one. On conference calls from Concord, Bend, and LA, we read aloud night after night until each sentence felt right to us all. It took patience.

A successful novelist once explained that writing novels can be a lonely road to travel. This was not our experience. We are so grateful to have had each other to laugh, scream, and forgive along the way.

So the process was, in essence, a culmination of what we have learned through yoga thus far. Trust, be open, quiet the ego, love, and believe in abundance.

Excerpt from Breathe:

“Alex, I’m leaving.”

I gagged on a wisp of highlighted hair that had sprung from the towel and stuck to my lip balm. Tripp liked my hair blonde. I’d had it done that day.

“What?” I sputtered.

“I’ll let you take a minute.” He turned and walked into the bathroom.

I followed him, stumbling over a pile by the door: boots, corset, thigh highs . . .
“What do you mean ‘you’re leaving’?”

Tripp turned from the mirror where he was preparing to shave as if nothing had happened.

As he stared at me, I felt like one-eared Billy at a dog show. Flawed. Judged.

“Stop looking at me like that! You can’t tell me it’s over and then look at me like that!” I yelled. He smiled mildly.

“Alex, you need to connect to your Truth. I can’t tell you how. That’s your journey. I can only tell you that I can’t follow this path with you anymore. My truth isn’t here. I found my Authentic Self.”

I was beyond insulted. It was one thing to hear this stuff from my mother who, if nothing else, lived her mundane ‘truth’ day after day, but not from a man who has eight sets of identical platinum cufflinks.

“You found what, where?”

“My Truth is in Atlanta, Alex. I found a place where my spirit can truly soar.” He started shaving.

The light bulb went on, and with the flip of a switch, I went from pissed to full on enraged.

“Wait a minute—your piece of ass is in Atlanta! Let’s not get confused here. Would your ‘Truth’ happen to be a contortionist with perfect boobs? Holy shit, Tripp, are you sleeping with—with Lauren—Lauren—” I spun around, looking for the magazine.

“This isn’t about sex, Alex. Lauren and I are united at a soul level, which I don’t expect you to understand. We’ve traveled through many lifetimes together.” He put the razor down and rubbed his smooth jaw line.

“What? Are you talking past lives with me, Tripp? Six months ago, you believed ‘God’ was a nickname for Microsoft. Can you please speak the actual truth here?”

“Like I said, I don’t expect you to understand. I found my path. Yoga has taken me to my true self, my higher self. None of this stuff really matters.” He was looking at himself in the mirror. “Lauren has been my guide.”

I looked at him in cross-eyed disbelief, then ran to grab the Yoga Journal. Panting, I returned to the bathroom, opened to the dog-eared page, and shoved it in his face.

“This woman opened your soul with some . . . ” I pulled the magazine back, furiously scanning the article. “Lavender and eucalyptus?” I was seething. “Seriously?”

I threw the magazine at his face and missed. It hit his chest pathetically and flopped to the floor. He stepped over it and went back to the bedroom, slid into his jeans commando-style, and picked up his suitcase, still packed.

“Alex, I’m sorry it has to be this way, but there is no talking to you about this.”

No talking to me?

“How are we supposed to talk when you are never here?” I cried.

“This was a mistake, and I haven’t known how to tell you. I’m leaving, Alex.”

I ran down the hall after him, caught my robe on a drawer pull, and lost the entire thing. Who makes robes out of cashmere anyway? When I finally wrestled it back on and reached the door, Tripp’s black Range Rover was sailing down the street, a large sticker on the rear window proclaiming, “Namaste.”

Connect with Kate:
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Buy the book:


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Featured Author: Christoph Fischer

Christoph Fischer was here in April to talk about his first novel, The Luck of the Weissensteiners. Christoph is a great supporter of indie authors, and I'm happy to have him back to tell us about his newest release, Sebastian, a historical fiction novel.

About the book:

Sebastian is the story of a young man who has his leg amputated before World War I. When his father is drafted to the war it falls on to him to run the family grocery store in Vienna, to grow into his responsibilities, bear loss and uncertainty and hopefully find love.

Sebastian Schreiber, his extended family, their friends and the store employees experience the ‘golden days’ of pre-war Vienna and the timed of the war and the end of the Monarchy while trying to make a living and to preserve what they hold dear.

Fischer convincingly describes life in Vienna during the war, how it affected the people in an otherwise safe and prosperous location, the beginning of the end for the Monarchy, the arrival of modern thoughts and trends, the Viennese class system and the end of an era.

Interview with Christoph Fischer:

Welcome back, Christoph. Tell us about Sebastian.

Sebastian is based on an image I have always had about my grandfather, whom I unfortunately never met. He was alive much later than the setting of Sebastian, but his story is that of my protagonist, a young man with an amputated leg, an injury that is not war related, and someone who has to rise to the challenge that a war brings to his life.

A friend of my father had a wooden leg and I was scared stiff of it when I was younger. My grandparents divorced in 1933 and he re-married. He and his family lived on the other side of the Berlin Wall and we never met any of them until the late eighties, by which time my grandfather sadly had already passed on. I only learned a little about him from my aunt, who adored him.

Much of the details she gave me about his life and his rather philosophical and wonderful outlook on life have found its way into the actual grandfather figure in the book, Oscar.

Do you think you're like any of your characters?

I am afraid in this book I am not like anyone at all, but many of the characters have small parts of me. I was a bookworm like Sebastian is as a child, and I shared some of his insecurities in my early twenties. 
I used to go to séances and see Spirit Mediums just like Mathilde Glueck, and I have an interest in Psychology like her mother Theresa Glueck.
I am a hard worker like Ingeborg, maybe that is a Germanic connection….

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

Well, as Northern European I am often told I am too stuck up, often even viciously referred to as the character ‘Monica’ in the TV series “Friends.” I would go for Eva, the Hungarian help, because she has such a relaxed attitude towards life and work, yet achieves so much so easily. I could do with a dose of that….apparently.

A lot of my other characters have a hard lot in my book, and I would rather not swap with them.

Understandable. Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

The scene when Sebastian’s mother does or does not (I can’t tell you which, you have to read the book yourself) find out that her husband has an affair with one of the assistants. It was so much fun to write, I just could not make up my mind whether her husband should get away with it or not. That whole sequence was great fun from a writer’s point of view.

As a reader of my own novel I enjoy the scenes between the Glueck women and Vera, Sebastian’s mother, as they try to cheer Vera up and make her their pet project, the whims of rich women trying to chase away their boredom.

With what five real people would you most like to be stuck on an island?

You, Amy, because you ask such fun questions!
Many celebrities have a bad reputation for off-screen behavior, but I will “settle” for:
Tina Fey – to keep you company with the jokes
Ewan MacGregor – an adventurer with charisma
Barbara Streisand – to entertain us with her singing and tales about Hollywood
Ola Rapace (Swedish James Bond actor) or Robert Downey Jr., to go hunt and gather for us.

Cool. I'm totally there--and honored to be one of your five. You were serious, right? Who are your favorite authors? (Besides me, of course.)

You, Amy, I learned from my mistake. Only you.

Nice try, buddy. But I'm not buying it! So...try again.

Well maybe Ty Patterson, Paulette Mahurin, Suneeta Misra, and Bernice L. Rocque.

I'm crushed. Just kidding. How long is your to-be-read pile?

It is endless. The kindle is deceptive as to how many books are hiding on the next page in the inventory. I also have a huge pile of paperbacks, secretly stashed away in the loft. I bring them in from my trips into town and my partner does not know that I spent half the grocery budget on such luxury, particularly when I never get round to reading them all. Please don’t tell on me.

Your secret is safe with me. You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?

Laura Linney, that woman can read the local telephone directory and I would listen.

Your two published books are historical fiction. Do you ever see yourself writing in another genre?

Yes, absolutely. I have a few books in draft form waiting to be edited and they are not historical at all. Temporary issues are just as important, and I have written about mental health, Alzheimer's, and escapism. I just need to find the time to tighten them up and publish them.

Maybe your manuscript on Alzheimer's should meet my manuscript on Alzheimer's. It's quite a subject. Tell me some of your favorite quotes.

“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds... Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You

"You don’t expect the Spanish Inquisition." -- Monty Python

I would have to agree with all of those. Good choices. Where’s home for you?

Home is currently near Bath in Wiltshire, UK. I am still sentimentally attached to my home town in Bavaria but my family itself is spread across the continent and due to the vast amount of travelling in my last day job, I am shamefully lazy in making the effort and going there more often.

Because my family was not ‘proper’ German or Bavarian, I have developed a slight sense of homelessness. After 7 years with my partner in Wiltshire I am settled in the relationship but location wise I could move to somewhere in Wales or even to Goose Pimple Junction tomorrow.

Wow. You just put Goose Pimple Junction in the same category as Wales. That's so cool. I

think I could live either of those places too.

Okay...tell us about the puppies!

Aw, yes. They are our third litter of Labradoodles. We have three adult girls, Molly, Greta and Wilma. Molly had 9 and 12 and has retired from birthing. Greta was never inclined to have ‘relations,’ and Wilma, our youngest ‘adult’ just had 6 gorgeous, charming heart breakers.

They are 8 weeks old at the moment and an absolute delight. All different colours and playful characters, they will soon have to leave the family and make other people happy.

And that they will. I have a Labradoodle, and they're great dogs. In fact, this picture of your Molly looks like my Cooper. I wonder if she could teach him to read.
Your last meal would be…Haloumi Cheese and Spinach Curry

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

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It is an epic book of 900 pages, I have read it several  times, and I enjoyed it every single time. It would provide the maximum benefit from only one book.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

That is a tough call. Can I go 50/50 on that one?


I love the peace and quiet of a good library but also the buzz of a great bookstore.

You just won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?

I am not very materialistic. I think I would hire people to market my books and those of others I think are really good, maybe even found an independent publishing house. Know any authors looking to publish? ;-)

I would be your first query. I hope you win the lottery! You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

Sunbathe in a hammock in the garden and read. Maybe a book set in Goose Pimple Junction?

Excellent. If you could be any fictional character for one day, who would you be?

Maybe a character in a Murakami novel, they seem to have great and bizarre adventures.

Name one thing you couldn’t live without.

Dogs. I used to be scared of them, now I wouldn’t want to live without them.

You have very literary dogs! If only they could write reviews...

What would your dream office look like?

Spacious with lots of clear surfaces (will never last) and a great view of the countryside. Dogs resting at my feet (also never lasts) and several assistants.

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

Playing with the puppies, spending time with the older dogs, reading in the bath tub, watching silly TV (currently hooked on the 1970s show “Soap”), going to the gym and sitting in the garden.

All worthy past times. Okay, spill it...what are you currently working on?

Another historical novel, set in Denmark, Finland, and Lapland, about a group of idealists during the Finnish Civil War, when Finland broke away from Russia during the revolution.

Sounds great. You will be back to tell us about it, right? I want first dibs!

About the author:

Christoph Fischer was brought up near the Austrian border in Bavaria and has since lived in Hamburg, London, Brighton and Bath. He always loved books and one of his first jobs was in a library. Sebastian is his second book and is part of the Three Nations Trilogy. The Luck of The Weissensteiners was published in November 2012 and has a thematic connection but no direct link to the plot of Sebastian.

Since becoming an author, Christoph has begun to support other authors and has joined several internet author groups.

Connect with Christoph:
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