Tuesday, May 31, 2016

BOOK BLAST: TEEN ZOMBIE SHOW


Teen Zombie Show Script: 

Top 10 finalist at the Cannes Film Festival in the TV category

 
Winner of the 2016 Gold Remi Award for TV writing


Teen Zombie Show Cover

ABOUT THE BOOK

This tell-all companion guide to the Teen Zombie Show reveals secret information and true events that helped shape and inform the creation of the TV series. It is the perfect insider’s guide on how and why the show was created. In short, by reading this, you will know things that others don’t.  

BOOK TRAILER:

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PILOT TRAILER
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EXCERPT FROM TEEN ZOMBIE SHOW


CHAPTER SEVEN
There’s nothing like a man / zombie in a military uniform to make you swoon. But, get this - he could talk! This is very different than the TV series. In the show, Za can’t speak. Now, he did spend months unable to communicate. So, I guess the producers thought this made a better character - or they never did a follow-up on the real people I based the script on. Whatever the case; the guy / zombie I met could speak. Now, his speech was labored like every word that came out of his mouth required great concentration. So, I dispensed with the chitchat, and got right into it. He does not really remember much before Sugar found him. But he’s certain that he was normal. He pulls out a tattered slip of paper with some kind of official college writing on it like a report card or something. There’s no logo, only a collegiate font. I ask him if he thought that he was a college student. He answers… Yes. Freshman. I ask how he knows this, and he just shrugs his shoulders. I ask if he’s happy. He holds Sugar’s hand and enthusiastically replies… Yes! Now, I know when a man is in love, and trust me, this dude is in love. He’s got it bad. I try to find out any information I can about his past but there’s just not much there for him to remember. And, he’s getting frustrated at my approach. So, I switch up and talk about the things he likes right now. His favorite Food? Chocolate chips cookies. Favorite Band? Guns and Roses (because Sugar likes them). Favorite TV show? Steven Universe. Then, Sugar asks me if I want to see the most amazing thing ever.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Santo has won multiple screenwriting awards, sold 5 scripts, 3 published books. His book on how to write screenplays went to #1 on Amazon Kindle in the performing arts category.

Website  |  Blog  |  Twitter 

Buy the book:
Amazon 






Giveaway:


       

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: CONNIE DI MARCO



ABOUT THE BOOK

The Zodiac Mysteries feature San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti, who never thought murder would be part of her practice. Julia sought answers and found solace in astrology after the death of her fiancé in a hit and run accident. Since then, she’s successfully built a clientele of the city’s movers and shakers.

In The Madness of Mercury, Julia’s outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, makes her the target of a recently-arrived cult preacher who advocates love and compassion to those less fortunate. But the power-hungry preacher is waging war on sin and his Army of the Prophet will stop at nothing to silence those who would stand in his way. Julia is at the top of his list. 





INTERVIEW WITH CONNIE DI MARCO


Connie, what do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?

I think making sure that all the little details are placed in the right spot and timed properly—clues, red herrings, etc. In a traditional mystery there are certain formats or expectations. That’s not to say a writer cannot push the envelope or break out of the box, but there are particular requirements. For one thing, the solution to the crime, the final unveiling, cannot come out of nowhere. It has to make organic sense, which really means being fair to the reader. A clue needs to be placed somewhere in the early part of the book, so that a percipient reader with a good memory will say, “Oh, wait a minute, back on page 5 there’s something that doesn’t quite fit with this information.” And if the reader thinks about it, they’ll have an inkling, if not knowledge of, exactly how the crime was committed. On the other hand, it cannot be an obvious drop, it must be something that will more than likely go unnoticed. By the end of a book, a mystery writer wants his or her readers to be totally surprised, not see the solution coming, and yet know that they were given enough to figure it out all along. It’s a tricky balancing act. 

How often do you read?
I’m constantly reading, every break or few minutes I have to myself. I read mysteries and thrillers pretty much exclusively. For me, it’s not just about entertainment. I’m learning and training myself. It’s a process that really never ends—whether one is painting, acting, writing, playing music, there’s always more to develop, a project can always be better. And I don’t think there’s any better way to improve your game than to read the masters of your genre. I love to read a book and be swept away by the story and the atmosphere and then read it again later, maybe two or three more times, until I see the underpinnings of the writing. For example, I just re-read Ann Cleeves’ Thin Air and enjoyed it again. This time around I really grasped how wonderfully she uses the sounds of the wind and the birds to create the atmosphere of her haunting setting. There are lots of wonderful books on “how to” write, but I really believe the best teachers are the best books. 

What is your writing style?

I’ve honestly never thought about it. I don’t know if I have a “style” per se. If there’s a mood, a feeling tone to any of the books I’ve written, then I’ve arrived there from the point of view of what would best suit this story or series of stories. What would make this genre work best? In the Soup Lover’s Mysteries, I felt that a strong sense of—I’ll call it Chicken Soup for the Soul—was important, would really make this setting and these stories work. I wanted to create very vulnerable characters who are strongly connected to each other, all with a sense of place and roots. Jack, Lucky’s grandfather, is an eccentric who tells time by the bells, but he’s devoted to his granddaughter and even his horrifying episodes of PTSD draw him closer to readers.

In the Zodiac Mysteries, it just seemed right to narrate the story in the first person. Julia’s an urban woman operating in a much more sophisticated and fast-paced environment. The first person choice made the story “pop,” made it more immediate, as the story unfolds through the prism of Julia’s point of view. There’s a strong sense of current time in these stories, while the Soup Lover’s Mysteries are more in the zone of timeless village mysteries. 

What do you think makes a good story?
It’s essential for the reader to be able to connect with the character(s) on an emotional level. Without that identification, it just won’t be a story that will stay with a reader. I’ve read books with characters who are so sharply drawn that I think of them as (almost) real people. And I’ve read some very good books, well done and well constructed, but have felt the protagonist wasn’t particularly vulnerable or struggling against tremendous odds. It is important to give your protagonist lots of obstacles and lots of problems to solve and to keep upping the stakes whenever possible. That’s the device that creates suspense and keeps a reader turning pages. 

It’s also important to have a well-constructed plot (especially in mysteries), the pacing must be right—not overwhelming and not too slow—and the psychology behind the murder must be solid.  All that is essential, but unless a character is vulnerable, someone the reader is rooting for and can identify with, it’s not a story that will linger and haunt the reader, and make them want to revisit that story or those characters again. 

What books do you currently have published?
The Madness of Mercury is the first book in the Zodiac Mysteries, the next one, which will be out next year, I’ve titled Dark Sun. Hopefully my publisher will like that title. If at all possible, I plan to use the name of a planet with each book, to tie in with the astrological theme. 

In my other series, the Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime, I’ve published five books:  A Spoonful of Murder, A Broth of Betrayal, A Roux of Revenge, Ladle to the Grave and A Clue in the Stew. It was a lot of fun coming up with titles/plays on words that tied in with the “soup” theme. 

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
I’d have to say PBS because I love the British exports, like Shetland and Vera. I’ve enjoyed Granchester and even the quirky Father Brown series—all murder mysteries, of course. And Foyle’s War as well. They’ve completely spoiled me for network or cable fare.
For several years (no longer, sadly) one of our local channels aired international mysteries every weekend. I gorged myself on Swedish (Beck, Van Veeteren, Wallandar), Italian, (Inspector Montalbano), German (Commissario Brunetti), not to mention Danish, Finnish and Icelandic productions. I wish American productions would catch up in content and quality. 

How often do you tweet?
I’ve tweeted a bit, but all in all, I’m a really bad tweeter! I’ll tweet to promote a book or a blog post or an event. I’ll tweet and retweet posts by friends to support them, but other than that, I don’t really “get” Twitter and I’m amazed that so many people spend so much time on the site. I’m not judging it, but I just don’t understand it. 

I agree with you! How do you feel about Facebook?
Well, first of all, I have to say it’s an absolute boon for writers in terms of promoting a new book or event. It’s wonderful to be able to chat with readers and hear what they have to say. I love that aspect of it. Even if the comments are critical. For example, in A Roux of Revenge, I couldn’t decide how to wind up the romantic thread of the story.  Lucky and her beau went through a rocky time and it looked as if the relationship could possibly end. I went back and forth in my head as to how to wind it up and neither choice – a breakup or a clear reconciliation—felt correct. The book ended on an ambiguous note, with Lucky waiting for her lover to return home. I certainly got some upset comments about that cliffhanger! I didn’t mind though. My editor loved the ending, and the more I thought about it, the more I felt that my choice was the right one. Not everything needs to be tied up in a neat little bow. 

I also love to hear about other writers’ books and even their trials and tribulations in their writing life. But to be really honest, if I weren’t writing books, I would probably never have a Facebook page at all. I have friends who post personal messages to me, rather than call or send an email. And I just cringe when that happens. I tend to be rather private about my personal life and don’t like the idea of “living out loud.”

For what would you like to be remembered?
Hmm, that reminds me of the question asked at the interviews done by the Actors Studio.  “What do you want to hear when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?” or something along those lines. I think I’d liked to be remembered as someone who brought tears, laughter, suspense and enjoyment into peoples’ lives through my stories. 

Name one thing you’re really good at and one thing you’re really bad at.

I’m really good at envisioning interiors and using colors. I guess I’m more a visual than auditory type of person. I love to look at decorating books and maybe if I had started on that path earlier, I would have loved to be an interior decorator. 

On another note, I am absolutely terrible with hair. I can’t even blow dry my own hair. Maybe if I could grow a third arm I could do it, but in lieu of that, I just let it go however it’s going to go or call the hairdresser in desperation.

Where is your favorite place to visit?
The ocean—any ocean anywhere. I love to be by the sea and feel the ozone in the atmosphere whether it’s the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Mediterranean. I wonder how it would feel to be next to the North Sea or the South Pacific seas or the Caspian Sea. Is it possible to tell the difference? 

I don't know, but I'd like to find out. What’s one thing that drives you crazy?
This goes back to my comments about social media—I hate to be nagged! And all those sites nag! Twitter constantly sends suggestions about who I should follow, Facebook reminds me I have 95 comments waiting, but LinkedIn is the worst! If someone sends a request for a connection and I’m not able to get to the site within a day or so, LinkedIn will remind me again and again that so-and-so’s invitation is still waiting. Please! Don’t we all have enough chores in front of us on a daily basis? Why do our social media sites nag us? 

Very true. What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Soup makings of course! I do love soup, and have had a lot of fun inventing soup recipes for the Vermont series. I always like to keep lots of vegetables in the drawer to choose from. I have three zucchinis right now, and those, with a large potato and some grated cheese would make a great soup! I think I might do just that this afternoon! 

And right now, our poor dear cat has been ill, and there’s a whole box of various cat remedies taking up a lot of space. We’ve been very worried about him, but he’s doing better lately.

What would your main character say about you?
I think both Julia and Lucky would ask me why I’ve given them so many problems. Neither one of them thinks she deserves all these difficulties, much less life-threatening events. I’d have to remind them that their struggles are character-building and otherwise readers might not like them so much. 

What’s your favorite song?

“I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” the Tony Bennett version. It reminds me of when I lived there, and it’s probably why I set the Zodiac Mysteries there. San Francisco is a beautiful city but it’s also a city of many moods—sunny and windy, cold and foggy, with hidden alleyways and secret stairways—a perfect place to set a mystery!

What is your favorite movie?

I don’t know if I can name just one, but I have a small collection of favorite (vintage) movies I love to watch every year, generally around the holidays. Don’t ask me why, perhaps that’s when I have a little more time to relax. Everyone in the family groans when I drag them out because they’ve seen them all umpty million times, but I never tire of them. They are Bell, Book and Candle (Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak), Tootsie (always makes me laugh), The Maltese Falcon (San Francisco again), and Casablanca (a little gem of a film).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury is the first in the series. Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the Soup Lover’s Mysteries set in Vermont from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers.

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

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble   




Thursday, May 26, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: DANE COBAIN




ABOUT THE BOOK


When the Angels attack, there’s NO REST FOR THE WICKED.

Father Montgomery, an elderly priest with a secret past, begins to investigate after his parishioners come under attack, and with the help of Jones, a young businessman with an estranged child, Montgomery begins to track down the origin of the Angels.

The Angels are naked and androgynous. They speak in a dreadful harmony with no clear leader. These aren’t biblical cherubs tasked with the protection of the righteous—these are deadly creatures of light that have the power to completely eradicate.

When Jones himself is attacked, Father Montgomery knows he has to act fast. He speaks to the Angels and organizes a final showdown where he’s asked to make the ultimate sacrifice.


INTERVIEW WITH DANE COBAIN


Dane, you currently have three books published:
a supernatural thriller called No Rest for the Wicked, a book of poetry called Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home, and Former.ly: The rise and fall of a social network. Do you write every day?
Writing is just a part of my lifestyle, and so yeah–pretty much. There may be the odd day here and there where I don’t write anything, but it’s pretty rare. When I’m on holiday or at music festivals, I keep journals and write poems, and I carry a notebook around with me and jot stuff down in that, and on my phone. It’s not necessarily that I try to write every day—I just do, without really noticing.

What do you wish you’d done differently when you first started the publishing process?
I wish I’d had a more thorough understanding of marketing earlier on in my career. These days, I work in marketing, and so that helps a lot with getting the word out—however, it also makes me more conscious of the end product when I’m working on something. It doesn’t necessarily influence the story, but I do start thinking about how I could sell the book before I’ve even finished writing it. It helps to have one eye on the goal.

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?

Getting people to buy it and read it—you wouldn’t believe how much of a writer’s time is spent on getting the word out there. That said, getting feedback from new readers is also the most rewarding aspect, so it’s a necessary evil.

Yes, sadly, I would believe it. What’s more important—characters or plot?

For me, as both a writer and a reader, it’s characters. I’ve read plenty of good stories with characters but no plot; I’ve never read a good one with plot and no characters.

What’s one thing you never leave the house without?
Cigarettes and a lighter.

What do you love about where you live?
High Wycombe is a multicultural town, but there’s also a great local community and a lot of artistic and writerly folk around.

What is your superpower?
Multitasking—I do it all of the time!

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

There’s always something to do! If I run out of things to do, I find more things to do, so that I’m always doing something. I’m the sort of person who hates sitting around and doing nothing. I don’t find ‘relaxing’ to be very relaxing.

Where is your favorite place to visit?
Amsterdam. It’s a beautiful city and the perfect mixture of weird, seedy bits and beautiful, historic bits. I must go back sometime soon.

Would you rather be a movie star, sports star, or rock star?
A rock star—that was my initial goal, as a kid. I guess I started writing after picking up the guitar as a teenager—I used to write songs, and from there I moved on to other stuff.

What’s one thing that drives you crazy?
People on the Internet. Seriously. This is the awesome part of the Internet, and so I’m sure that everyone who reads your blog is pretty cool, but there are a lot of really stupid people out there who get angry and aggressive over nothing. I have no time for people who use the Internet to start fights and arguments. It’s much more fun to make new friends.

What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Beer and cheese! That’s the simplified version, anyway. I’m a vegetarian, so no meat!

Who is your favorite fictional character?
I’m a big fan of reluctant heroes and antiheroes, but my favorite character of all time is probably Lyra Belacqua from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, purely because she’s the protagonist and it’s my favorite series.


How do you like your pizza?
Vegetarian hot (onions, mushrooms, jalapenos, and extra cheese), with garlic and herb dip.


What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
It says: “Life has no ctrl+z.”

What’s your favorite smell?
I’ve been burning a lot of incense recently, and I usually have a candle going. My favorite smell is probably vanilla—simple, but lovely.


What’s your favorite color?
Red.


What is your favorite movie?
It’s hard to say, because I usually name a few of them: Wayne’s World, Donnie Darko or The Princess Bride. I like each of those for different reasons, mostly sentimental.


What are you working on now?
I’m working on loads of things—I just finished finalizing the edits on Former.ly, a novel about a social networking site for the dead. I’ve also got a non-fiction book called Social Paranoia, about how consumers and brands can stay safe in a connected world, which will be going into editing just as soon as my editor, Pam Harris, finishes off Former.ly. I’m also writing a novelization adaptation of a screenplay that I wrote—the two will be published together as Come On Up to the House. After that, I’m planning on writing a detective series.


KUDOS FOR DANE'S WORK


Eyes Like Lighthouses
is Dane Cobain’s first book of poetry, distilled from the sweat of a thousand memorised performances in this reality and others. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

“I’ve never seen anyone do a stream of consciousness piece as talented as that. Very impressed.” – Mark Allard-Will, author of Saskatch-A-Man and co-founder of Cuckoo’s Nest Press

“Dane’s poetry is a multi-layered spiral of the macabre, quirky humour and disjointed imagery. Not only does he make you think, he captures the small forgotten moments of everyday life.” – Nikki Dudley, co-editor of Streetcake Magazine

“ . . . [Dane] combines concrete detail with socioeconomic concerns.” – Lorna Wood, associate editor of Gemini Magazine



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Dane Cobain is a writer, poet and musician from a place you've probably never heard of, somewhere in England. When he's not writing books, he's reading and reviewing them on his book blog, SocialBookshelves.com or working at his day job in social media marketing.

Connect with Dane:

Website  |  Blog  |  
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  
Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Amazon UK  |  Amazon US  

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: SARAH T. HOBART




ABOUT THE BOOK

Newly armed with her real estate license, Sam Turner loves Arlinda, her quirky seaside hometown in Northern California. But life by the beach isn’t exactly a breeze: She and her teenage son, Max, are being evicted from their apartment, her long absent ex-husband unexpectedly resurfaces, and her possibly romantic relationship with sexy Chief of Police Bernie Aguilar is, well . . . complicated. All Sam wants is a quick and easy sale. What she gets instead is a killer headache—or three.
Sam’s trying to drum up interest in 13 Aster Lane, a rambling Victorian fixer-upper that’s more than a little neglected—and possibly haunted—so when a trio of offers arrive out of the blue, she can’t help thinking it’s too good to be true. But after a new client drops dead on the property, she fears she’s lost more than a commission. Before Sam’s out of house and home, she must unmask a killer targeting her clients, or the only property she’ll be moving will be plots—at the local cemetery.




INTERVIEW WITH SARAH HOBART


Sarah, how did you get started writing?

By reading. Every Friday after dinner, my family would walk to the Keene, New Hampshire, Public Library and check out as many books as we could carry—and I could carry a lot! I loved stories about animals, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, Sherlock Holmes, Asimov’s Foundation series . . . I read everything, even lugged home a textbook on the skeletal system of mammals once. We had the full collection of Agatha Christie's on a bookshelf at home, and after I read, Toward Zero, I was hooked. But I wrote in a lot of different genres, mostly humorous stories for my family, and later, for my own kids. I tried a couple of short mysteries just for fun; one was used by our public library as the finale to their summer reading program. And that was that—until I challenged myself to attempt a full-length mystery novel before a certain milestone birthday.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
Thinking like a writer: taking my observations of people, situations, and places and transforming them into fodder for my stories.

Do you write every day?
Yes!

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
The first ten thousand words.

What’s more important–characters or plot?

That’s a tough one. Characters and plot go together like peanut butter and mayonnaise (okay, that’s an acquired taste.) But since I have to choose one . . . Agatha Christie was and is the queen of incredible plotting, with twists and turns that will misdirect the most seasoned mystery reader. But she didn’t sell eighty gazillion books (and counting) through plot alone. Without wasting words, she drew memorable characters–Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple,  Harley Quin, among others—to drive those plots. So I believe great characters have a bit of an edge over great plots. They keep us reading.

How often do you read?
Every day.

What books do you currently have published?

Before writing Death at a Fixer-Upper, I wrote Good Bones in 2012 and Like a House on Fire in 2013, under the pen name Muriel Wills.


Do you have any secret talents?
I can cut and dye hair (hot pink), even to the exacting standards of a teenager.

Is writing your dream job?
Absolutely. Though running my own ice cream shop is a close second.


What is the worst job you’ve ever had? What did it teach you?

Out of desperation, I took a graveyard-shift job cleaning toilets for a janitorial firm, until one night I nodded off over the commode. I learned I was not cut out for night work.

For what would you like to be remembered? 

“She was an odd duck, but she made me laugh.”

What scares you the most?

Hard drive crashing before I hit “save.”

What’s one thing you never leave the house without (besides your phone)?

My handheld GPS device–for geocaching, naturally.

What do you love about where you live?

It’s the most beautiful place on earth! And there really is a Kinetic Sculpture Race.


What’s your favorite thing to do/favorite place to go on date night?
Date night?

What's the biggest lie you ever told?
I once spilled my margarita on my six-year-old son’s Buzz Lightyear action figure, so instead of saying, “To infinity–and beyond!” he said, “Brrzzztt.” I told my son it was due to a factory defect.

Name one thing you’re really good at and one thing you’re really bad at.

Taking care of animals (including humans): I’m all over that. Taking care of plants: I reduce them to brown twigs in a matter of weeks. Not sure why. I water and water! The local nursery won’t sell me house plants anymore.

Where is your favorite place to visit?
New England in October – the colors are spectacular.

Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?
Sam Turner has quite a sweet tooth. That’s drawn from life.

What’s one thing that drives you crazy?

Its versus it’s. Its quite a pet peeve of mine.

Good one! What’s your favorite/most visited Internet site?

Geocaching.com.


What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Beer, soda, and eggs. Those are the major food groups, right?

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“Those who are tardy do not get fruit cup.” (High Anxiety).

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
Ferndale, California. It takes me back to when I was a kid. Everyone is sweet and helpful, and they still use a card catalogue.


How do you like your pizza?
Pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, onions, roasted red peppers.


What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?

Our basset hound Bailey.


Do you have a favorite book?
Three (at least): To Kill a Mockingbird; Shining Through by Susan Isaacs; and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
.

If you had to choose a cliché about life, what would it be?
“This too shall pass.”


What are you working on now?
A Killer Location.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Sarah Hobart is a real estate agent and former newspaper reporter in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and two children in a majestic fixer-upper overlooking State Highway 101.


Buy the book:
Amazon 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: CHRISTOPH FISCHER



ABOUT THE BOOK:

It’s World War II and Ludwika Gierz, a young Polish woman, is forced to leave her family and go to Nazi Germany to work for an SS officer. There, she must walk a tightrope, learning to live as a second-class citizen in a world where one wrong word could spell disaster and every day could be her last. Based on real events, this is a story of hope amid despair, of love amid loss . . . ultimately, it’s one woman’s story of survival.


Editorial Review:

"This is the best kind of fiction—it’s based on the real life. Ludwika’s story highlights the magnitude of human suffering caused by WWII, transcending multiple generations and many nations.

WWII left no one unscarred, and Ludwika's life illustrates this tragic fact. But she also reminds us how bright the human spirit can shine when darkness falls in that unrelenting way it does during wartime.

This book was a rollercoaster ride of action and emotion, skilfully told by Mr. Fischer, who brought something fresh and new to a topic about which thousands of stories have already been told."


INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTOPH FISCHER

Christoph, you are one of the most prolific writers I know. You started with the Three Nations Trilogy: The Luck of The Weissensteiners, published in November 2012; Sebastian, May 2013, and The Black Eagle Inn, October 2013. Two contemporary novels, Time to Let Go and Conditions, were released in May and October 2014, respectively. Conditions' sequel, Conditioned, was published in October 2015. You tackled the medical thriller genre in 2015 with The Healer in January and The Gamblers, in June. In 2015, you also published two more historical novels, In Search of a Revolution, in March and Ludwika, in December. How do you do it? What's your writing routine?
In November 2012 I had seven of my ten novels already in advanced draft stages, and while I learned the ropes of book marketing, I kept editing and re-writing these drafts. I’ve only really written three new books in that time.


As for my routine: When I have an idea I’m quite wrapped up in the writing and can work for up to 14 hours a day. The story doesn’t let me go and needs to come out. So I get up early, take out the dogs, and once they are settled I write for as long as inspiration stays with me. It can be very anti-social.

From starting the first draft to publishing, what is your publishing process like?
For historical or topical novels I spend a month or so researching, then I need another month for the first draft (on average). I tend to re-write the story once or twice before giving the book to the beta readers. I spend a few weeks letting their comments and suggestions sink in and then begin the next round of re-writes. Around this time I ask my cover designer for his first suggestions.


Each book goes to my editor twice before it is formatted and submitted. 
I wrote the first draft for Conditions in 2009 but didn’t publish until many, many, many rewrites later, in 2014. The Healer only took 5 months from first word to published product.

You’ve written historical fiction and medical thrillers. How do you research for your books?
Firstly, I read books, and then I use information on the Internet. If I come to rely on a historical fact in a novel, I make sure that I can verify it from several sources. People will always catch you out, so this is leg work that cannot be avoided.

With the medical facts I do the same, but I also consult two friends who are doctors. 
I only write about things that interest me, so this part is really great fun.

You are a Twitter beast. As I write this, you have 190K tweets, you're following 49.6K people, you have 51.5K followers, and you have 46.9 likes. How in the world do you do it?

I’m not entirely sure how this happened either. Re-tweeting and interacting with readers and other authors alike helps a lot. I used Twitter tools to help me find the right people to follow, namely Crowdfire and Tweepi. Twitter has changed the rules for these several times, so it isn’t as easy as it used to be. Following a lot of people at the same time can lead to suspension, so always be careful.


It seems, though, that the more followers you have, the more people will find and follow you without you doing any work for it. I remember how long it took me to get to 2000 followers. Persist, and it will get easier!


What's your favorite genre?

Hand on heart: Good comedy. I thrive on drama, historical fiction, and thrillers, but nothing beats a good laugh.

How do you get your ideas for stories?
With the historical novels, it starts with an interest in the country’s history and from wondering how those times might have been like for regular people. At some point during the research the plot comes together. The same is true with my contemporary novels. For example, there were several cases of dementia and Alzheimers’ Disease on my surrounding, which inspired Time To Let Go. My partner had the initial idea for my thriller The Healer.

What's your favorite thing about the writing/publishing process? Least favorite?
Favorite: Writing the first draft/making it up. Least favorite: Grammar edits.

Do you have any marketing tips you could pass on to indie authors?

Work on your ‘brand,’ which is you. Don’t try to be something that you’re not, people will see through it. My most popular posts are those about myself, not about my books. 
I’m not good at this, but I have seen successful authors use their blogs and mailing lists to connect with their readers and provide them with regular, fresh content about their work.
Be visible on as many platforms as you can—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc, but don’t rely only on other authors or ‘buy my book’ adverts. Mix it up.

What’s one thing a writer should never forget?
Be true to yourself.

What’s more important—characters or plot?
A really good character is watchable during the most mundane tasks. A good plot can bomb without a good cast.

Name one thing you’re really good at (besides writing) and one thing you’re really bad at.
I grew up in hilly/mountainous Bavaria, so I am surprisingly good at uphill walking, running, and cycling. Yet, I run out of steam quickly on cross trainers.

What’s the oldest thing you own and still use?
A Swedish army coat which I bought in the early nineties. 

Do you have any secret talents?
I make very good vegan salads.

What’s one thing you never leave the house without (besides your phone).
Dental floss.

What would you name your autobiography?

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

Who would narrate the audiobook?

Jeff Daniels.

What’s your favorite/most visited Internet site?

IMDB.

What’s one thing that very few people know about you?

I used to spin the decks. Cheesy pop and house music.

What's the wallpaper on your computer?

My partner and the dogs by a beach.

What's your phone's ring tone?
Xanadu.

Five more:
5 favorite possessions

Snowglobe from Israel, Deutschland Teddy bear from the World Cup, Stuffed Ernie & Bert, Stuffed Sully (Monsters Inc) and a pendant from New Zeland (gift from my partner).

5 things you never leave home without
Phone, keys, wallet, kindle, magazine (Actually that is a lie. I frequently forget several of these actually . . . )

5 things you never want to run out of
Fruit juice, good TV shows, good books, new music and love

5 things about you or 5 words to describe you

Easily distracted, a little too sensitive, loyal, mostly harmless, daydream believer.

5 favorite foods
Avocados, Berries, Spinach, Paneer, Thai Green Curry



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers, he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. In 1993 he moved to the UK and now lives in Llandeilo in West Wales. He and his partner have several Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums, and for an airline. His first historical novel, The Luck of The Weissensteiners, was published in November 2012 and downloaded over 60,000 times on Amazon. He has released several more historical novels, including In Search of A Revolution and Ludwika. He also wrote some contemporary family dramas and thrillers, most notably Time to Let Go and The Healer.

Connect with Christoph:


Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |   Amazon  |  Pinterest  | Google+  |  LinkedIn 

Buy the book:
Amazon 

Friday, May 20, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: JULIE MULHERN



ABOUT THE BOOK

When Ellison Russell is nearly killed at a benefactors’ party, she brushes the incident aside as an unhappy accident. But when her house is fire-bombed, she’s shot at, and the person sitting next to her at a gala is poisoned, she must face facts. Someone wants her dead. But why? And can Ellison find the killer before he strikes again?

Add in an estranged sister, a visiting aunt with a shocking secret, and a handsome detective staying in her guesthouse, and Ellison might need more than cream in her coffee.






INTERVIEW WITH JULIE MULHERN


Julie, do you have a writing routine?
The alarm goes off every day around five. The awful thing is that I’m usually awake long before the alarm goes off. I stumble downstairs, push the button on the coffee maker, let the dog out, then write.

Do you write every day?
I do. Every day. On weekends I sleep in until six or so.

Whoa! Go wild! How often do you read?
I read whenever I can. I love mysteries, biographies, and history.


What do you think makes a good story?
I love a story with compelling characters, a killer plot, and lots of laughs.

What books do you currently have published?
Clouds in my Coffee is the third book in the Country Club Murders series. The fourth book will release in October.

Do you have any marketing tips you could pass on to indie authors?
Be present, be real, and don’t be afraid to tell people about your book if they ask. That said, don’t be that person—the one who says, “Nice to meet you, buy my book!”

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?

Can I say Netflix?

Absolutely! How often do you tweet?
I tweet everyday. I’m boring. Don’t bother.

How do you feel about Facebook?
I love Facebook and post pictures from the seventies, songs, bad advertising, bad clothes and fun memories.

What scares you the most?

I am terrified of snakes.

What five things would you never want to live without?
I need my Kindle, my phone, coffee, cream, and wine.

What’s one thing you never leave the house without?
I’d like to say my keys, but the truth is I forget them all the time.

What’s your favorite fast food?

I could eat a burrito bowl from Chipotle every day.


What’s your favorite beverage?
Wine or coffee? Wine or coffee? Coffee. Definitely coffee. Or wine.

Name one thing you’re really really bad at.
I have a terrible memory. Seriously. What was the question?


What do you wish you could do?
I wish I could travel more.

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

Have I mentioned Netflix?

Point taken. 
Would you rather be a movie star, sports star, or rock star?
Movie star, no one wants to hear me sing.

What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Wine, cream for my coffee, blackberries, raspberries, yogurt, almond milk, lunch meat, and sour dough bread.

What’s one of your favorite quotes? 
"In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer." — Camus

Who is your favorite fictional character?

I am quite fond of Davis Way who is written by Gretchen Archer.



What’s your favorite song?
Today, it’s "Year of the Cat" by Al Stewart.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Mulhern is the USA Today bestselling author of The Country Club Murders.

She is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean—and she's got an active imagination. Truth is—she's an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions.


Connect with Julie:

Website  |  
Facebook  |  
Twitter  |  
Goodreads 

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes 



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: ANDREW BLENCOWE




ABOUT THE BOOK

What if, by the passing of just two events, Japan and Germany had won World War 2?
The Goddess of Fortune is a work of speculative fiction in which alternate history is explored, and consequences examined.

•    Beautiful Louise, while only 24 years old, uses her intelligence, wiles, and body to dominate the so-called "stronger sex."

•    Kaito Sasaki of the Bank of Tokyo, inspired by Lenin (“The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency”), proves just that with his printing of U.S. 100 dollar bills.

•    The treachery of Hermann "Fatso" Goering is uncovered and his punishment is swift.

•    The duplicity of Roosevelt and his so-called Brains Trust is exposed and the doubts of the urbane gentleman, Henry Morgenthau, are made clear.

As a work of historical fiction, Goddess reveals the private foibles, quirks, and lusts of the famous (and often rich) of the period. How could the end goals of the Axis come to fruition given these events?

Goddess explores just how, and in doing so brings to light in imaginative prose the lives of historical figures we have only known from our history books.


INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW BLENCOWE


Andrew, how did you get started writing?

I started writing by accident after reading an article in the Financial Times, "What’s the big idea?," about the power of the philosophical novel. I had just finished reading Stephen King's book On Writing, so I thought I would try writing. I found King's book both instructive and encouraging.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?

The isolation. Being able to create alone, without the need of a team, is a common comment by many writers; I share this view.

I would agree with that. Do you have a writing routine?
I am a binge writer—I write only on the weekends and only for a month or two per year. But these sessions are typically 14 hours per day over both days of the weekend. The research is far more leisurely and consumes the remainder of the year.

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?

The ideas. Also avoiding preposterous plots, and the fear—of all writers—of technical and factual errors, such as a .350 Magnum when the gun is actually a .357 caliber.

What’s more important – characters or plot?

Plot trumps characters.


What do you think makes a good story?
Surprises. After the first 50 or 100 pages, plots often get repetitive and stale.

It was interesting to learn in the recent biography of John le Carré that he does not map out the plot, but simply writes and lets the writing determine the plot. Tricky to do, but when done properly surprises occur.

How often do you tweet? How do you feel about Facebook?
I believe Twitter and Facebook are powerful signs of the destruction of western civilization. They have no redeeming features and a litany of ills, chief of which is the encouragement of thoughtlessness—"Let Me Sleep On It" goes out the window.

The breathtaking narcissism encouraged is also to be deplored.

What five things would you never want to live without?
Coffee, Bordeaux red wine, Google, peace to read, isolation.

What do you love about where you live?

I live in Tokyo, and what is most attractive is the Japanese sense of community, which they themselves do not recognize. This sense of community leads to a tranquility that is only present in Japan.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Andrew Blencowe discovered at an early age what it was like to live on the edge of life. During his high school years he dropped out to become a motorcycle racer. Smitten by computers in his early twenties, he went on to become founder and CEO of an international software company with offices on five continents. It is his international perspective and a drive to challenge assumptions that influence his writing interests. As a weekend student of history, one point he noticed over and over was how a seemingly trivial action had such immense consequences. Regarding this point of minute actions, it is akin to a 1,000-ton boulder balanced precariously on a steel knife edge; at present still, but with the smallest nudge, an army of men cannot stop the monolith from rolling down the hill. Another recurring point was how people's time frames are always myopically short; Zhou Enlai, when asked in the early 1970s about the significance of the French Revolution, was reputed to have answered, "Too early to say." This myopia is daily becoming worse and worse as the destruction of the intellect by mobile "telephones" accelerates. Combined with iPads and other electronic reading devices, the ability of the human mind to think and ponder disturbance—free is being destroyed one interruption at a time. These are some of the main threads in Blencowe's novels—the arrogance and massive overconfidence in the new (blithely and wrongly considered better); the panoply of quick fixes rather than a thoughtful analysis of the unexpected consequences of these often dangerous modern expedients.

Connect with Andrew:
Website  |  
Goodreads  

Buy the book:
Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, May 15, 2016

GOOSE PIMPLE PALOOZA




A Blue Million Books usually features other authors and their books, but today I'm celebrating the launch of the fourth book in my Goose Pimple Junction mystery series, Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction, so it's time for some shameless self-promotion.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Like any good Southern belle, Caledonia Culpepper was raised by her mama to be gracious, charming, witty, and above all, a devoted mother and loving wife, so she's baffled when her marriage falls apart.

Wynona Baxter is a master of disguise but is often a ditzy airhead. A hit woman wannabe, when she's hired for her first job in Goose Pimple Junction and things don't go as planned, she's forced to resort to Plan B. She'll also need Plan C and D.

Crooked lawyers, restless husbands, a teenaged hoodlum—it seems there are rogues and rascals everywhere you look in Goose Pimple Junction.

When Caledonia and Wynona's paths cross, they prove there isn't a rogue or a rascal who can keep a good woman down. Mama always said there would be days like this . . .







FACT OR FICTION?



People often ask me where I get ideas for things I put in my books. My answer is: everywhere. If I see it, hear it, live it, or remember it, it's fair game—starting with the title of the series. I visited Goose Pimple Junction, Virginia, in 1985 and never forgot the name. When I started writing Murder & Mayhem, I thought the name was a perfect fit for my fictional town.  A lot of things in the books are from my imagination—but not all. Like a lot of writers, I pull from real life, and I also keep lists of things I like and think I may use one day in a book. So what's fact or fiction in Goose Pimple Junction? Read on for a few examples . . .



It's a fact 

1. The murders in Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction actually happened in real life to my father's grandmother and uncle. His uncle's murder was never solved.


2. The short stories in Short & Tall Tales in Goose Pimple Junction are fictionalized, but for the most part actually happened to family members. 


3. There is a real Silly Goose restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee.


4. The folks in Goose Pimple Junction are more liberal with their use of "goosepimpleisms" than the average bear (remember–it's FICTION). But the goosepimpleisms in the book were inspired by or actually were things I heard my father and grandfather say. For example, in answer to "How are you?" my grandfather would say "I'm still buying green bananas." (Meaning he's doing well enough he expects to still be around when the bananas are ripe for eating.)



5. The bank robbery in Murder & Mayhem was inspired by an actual bank robbery that occurred in 1932. One of the bandits was arrested just as it happened in the book.


6. My uncle called his grandson, Dylan, "Pickle."


7. The real Butterbean is the niece of a friend of mine. She pronounces it "Buttabean" like Louetta.


8. I knew a police officer who fell into a pool while chasing a criminal like Hank did in Heroes & Hooligans. He no longer works in law enforcement.


9. The original Slick & Junebug's was in Paintsville, Kentucky. 


10. Lenny was inspired by the husband (now ex-husband) of a friend.


11. "Miss Penny's Dress Shop" in Rogues & Rascals comes from a Miss Penny's Dress Shop that my grandmother took me to when I was a little girl.



12. I always have a character in my books with some form of the name "Lou" as a nod to the city I live where I live—Louisville. Hence, the name "Louetta." Strangely enough, about a year ago, I discovered that my mother's grandmother's name was Louettie.



13. When I'm really stumped for a character's last name, sometimes I use the names of counties in Kentucky.


14. My grandfather owned and operated a filling station like P.D.'s in Murder & Mayhem. It was down the street from Slick & Junebug's Diner.



15. Henry Clay got his name from a building in downtown Louisville, when I just happened to see it one day while waiting at a traffic light. The building is on The National Register of Historic Places but was being renovated at the time.



16. My mother owned a maroon convertible Buick La Sabre like the one Estherlene drives in Heroes & Hooligans.

17. There is a Magnolia Bar called the "Mag Bar" in downtown Louisville.


18. The street names in all the books are actual street names that either have meant something to me or that I found in real life.



19. A friend in high school had a Basset Hound named Ezmerelda.



20. Ezzie's antics are from my granddog Gage, a brown lab who is a genius. Everything Ezzie has done in the books, Gage has done (and more) in real life. Did I mention he's a genius?







GOOSE PIMPLE PALOOZA

To promote the release of Rogues & Rascals, I'll be hanging out in cyberspace for the next few weeks. In May, I'll be at the following blogs:

James Moushon: HBS Author Spotlight

Kathleen Higgins Anderson: Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Kim at Read Your Writes

Christoph Fischer
Lauren Carr Literary Wealth

GREAT ESCAPE BLOG TOUR

In June, I'll be on tour with Great Escapes Blog Tours:

June 8 – Bubble Bath Books – REVIEW
June 9 – The Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT
June 10 – Readsalot - INTERVIEW
June 11 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW
June 12 – OFF
June 13 – Shelley's Book Case – REVIEW
June 14 – Island Confidential  - INTERVIEW
June 15 – I Read What You Write - REVIEW, INTERVIEW
June 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
June 17 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW
June 18 – Author Annette Drake's blog – INTERVIEW
June 19 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews - INTERVIEW
June 20 – Queen of All She Reads – INTERVIEW
June 21 – Omnimystery News - INTERVIEW
June 22 – Brooke Blogs - INTERVIEW



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


Writing a book is a solitary task, but getting a book ready to publish takes a village. First, I want to thank the readers who wrote to me asking when the next book would be out. You are the wind beneath my wings. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Y’all are sweeter than a box of jelly donuts!

I could not write a book without the advice of others. To my beta readers Sarah Mallery, Ellen Mansoor Collier, Lisa Spears, Liz Metz, and my editor Lisa Binion, thank you for helping me through the final stage, the one that is the most brutal. I appreciate your attention to detail, your honesty, and your friendship. 

Thank you to “Emerico” Imre Tóth for the fantastic cover art for this book. As soon as I saw the “Bowler Hat on a Rainy Day” painting, I knew it was right for this novel. I am so happy I was allowed to use it.

Thank you to Tom Brooks for listening to me babble about GPJ, and for your insight and friendship. Thank you to my family, Jake Metz, Michael Metz and Liz Metz, for your support and encouragement.

Friday, May 13, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: LINDA O. JOHNSTON




INTERVIEW WITH LINDA O. JOHNSTON


Linda, how did you get started writing?
I've always written! Even as a child I would save essay topics for the next time I had to write something for English class. I started writing a sci-fi saga that never got finished as a teenager. And when I was an adult, I started writing mystery short stories and time travel romances, then mysteries, and just kept going!

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?

I get to let my subconscious mind take over and run!

Do you have a writing routine?
Sort of, although it changes. Mostly these days, I get other stuff out of the way in the morning, then write or edit during the afternoon.

Do you write every day?

Absolutely—although I'm saying this after returning from the Malice Domestic conference where I didn't get an opportunity to write or edit. Let's just say I write every day when I'm home.

How often do you read? 
I read every day, although the amount of time I get to spend varies. 

What books do you currently have published?

I don't think you want me to list all of them here. There are 42 of them.

How do you feel about Facebook?

I really like Facebook, although I keep telling myself it's time to start an author's page.

What do you love about where you live?
It's Hollywood! What's not to love about that?


What's the biggest lie you ever told?
Who me, an author, lie? Never!


What’s your favorite beverage? 
I admit to being a coffee addict.

What drives you crazy?
Lots of people do. That's one reason I love dogs.

What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?
Hug my dogs.

Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?
Not exactly, although Kendra Ballantyne, the protagonist of my Pet-Sitter mysteries, was a lawyer who lived in the Hollywood Hills with her tricolor Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Lexie. At the time, I was a lawyer, I live in the Hollywood Hills, and my older Cavalier is a tricolor named Lexie. But fortunately I've never stumbled over dead bodies.

Do you procrastinate?

I didn't mean to, but I didn't start my responses to my current blog tour as quickly as I should have . . .

What’s one thing that drives you crazy?
Traffic! And I know it well. After all, I've lived in Los Angeles for a good many years.

What is the most daring thing you've done?

I'm not sure it was daring, except for the fact that I'm not much of a swimmer. But a number of years ago I was researching a book that never got published, but it had dolphins in it—and I made an opportunity for myself to swim with dolphins!

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
"Reality is only for those who lack imagination."


Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
I haven't been there in many years, but I grew up in Pittsburgh and absolutely adored the Carnegie Library there. It was in a charming old building, and I learned a lot there about books and people who wrote them.

What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
It's just some standard stuff—a blue background with a rainbow kind of logo. But the wallpaper on my phone is my two wonderful dogs, Lexie and Mystie!


What would you do for a Klondike bar?

Ah, as I mentioned, I grew up in Pittsburgh, where there were Isaly's stores all through my childhood, and they were the ones who invented Klondike Bars. I've always loved them. Maybe I'd become a child again for a Klondike bar!

What are you working on now?
I'm working on my third Barkery & Biscuits Mystery—title to come. And more stories in this series to come. By the way, To Catch a Treat is my 42nd published novel. I also currently write the Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink, as well as for two Harlequin series. Nearly all my stories involve dogs, including the Superstition Mysteries, where my protagonist owns a lucky black and white dog and runs a pet boutique, and my Harlequin Nocturne paranormal romances, the Alpha Force miniseries, about a covert military unit of shapeshifters!





Connect with Linda: 

Website  |  Blog  |  Character blog  |   Midnight Writers blog 
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  
Goodreads  

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  | Midnight Ink