Wednesday, July 19, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: LISA BECKER




ABOUT THE BOOK


In high school, Charlotte Windham was a typical student going through an awkward phase -- glasses and all. She harbored a crush on Garrett Stephens, the teen heartthrob everyone can’t help but fall for during that unfortunate ugly duckling phase of one’s teen years. Flash forward fifteen years later, and Charlotte and Garrett have a second chance encounter at a Los Angeles restaurant. However, this time around, Charlotte has leveled the playing field. She’s a bestselling novelist and no longer “Glasses,” the humiliating nickname Garrett called her in high school. In short, she’s a catch now and, thanks to corrective eye surgery, it’s not just her eyes that see better…so does her heart! Garrett hasn’t fared poorly either, transforming from teen heartbreaker to adult lothario. A now successful professional golfer, he’s recently suffered a major setback in the form of a possible career-ending injury. With the upper hand, can Charlotte forgive Garrett for his past ways, and for his more recent Don Juan lifestyle? Will she even want to? And, can Garrett change his ways for a second chance with Charlotte, who may just be the perfect fit for him? 




LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT INTERVIEW WITH LISA BECKER


Hardest thing about being a writer:
Self-motivating. It is so easy to get distracted with all of the other fun things to do in life such as grocery shopping, online banking, and laundry.

Easiest thing about being a writer:
The uniform. Nothing's better than being productive in a cozy pair of sweatpants and slippers.

Things you love about where you live:
I live less than two miles from the beach and love being able to see the ocean every day, take a walk along the beach and enjoy the sea air.
Things that make you want to move:
Because my little beach town is so lovely, we endure lots of traffic and parking woes due to people wanting to visit.

Words that describe you:
I've always been described as "nice" and now that I'm a parent and living in a world where kindness seems to be in short supply, it's a label I'm proud to wear.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t:
"Nice." I've joked in the past that my tombstone will read, "Here lies Lisa Becker. A very nice girl." As much as I appreciate that I'm known as a "good" person, there are times it would feel good to be the bad girl.

Favorite beverage:
A margarita on the rocks with extra salt around the rim. Mmmmm.

Something that gives you a pickle face:
Beer. Believe it or not, I haven't had one since my freshman year of college.


Favorite smell:
Baking brownies.

Something that makes you hold your nose:
Pumpkin. I can't even be in the room when my kids carve them for Halloween.

Something you’re really good at:
Baking and making desserts. I have a recipe for amazing chocolate chip cookie dough truffles that are always a hit.

Something you’re really bad at: Unfortunately, I'm not so good at resisting aforementioned desserts.


Something you wish you could do:
I've always wanted to know how to professionally decorate cakes. Not only does it sound fun, but quite yummy.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do:
I wish I never learned to write compelling complaint letters that yield action. My family has taken notice and now anytime anyone has a problem with an airline, bank or retail store, I am enlisted to write their complaint letter for them.

Something you like to do:
I love to read. I could spend hours every day, sitting in a cozy chair and reading a good book. My favorites are romance novels with flawed heroes, major heart swoons and happily ever afters.

Something you wish you’d never done:
I wish I had never attempted zip lining. After hiking up a ridiculously tall mountain and careening through one course, I chickened out of the rest only to hear there was no other way down the mountain. I ended up screaming my way through a 10-rope course in Costa Rica.

Favorite places you’ve been:
My favorite place on the planet is Lizard Island, a small private island off the coast of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. It is a little slice of heaven.

Places you never want to go to again:
If I didn't need to go for hygiene reasons, I would never step foot into the dentist office again.

Things that make you happy:
My children. I have two girls - ages 12 and 10. They are smart, silly, clever and so fun to be around.

Things that drive you crazy:
My children. Didn't you notice above I have two girls - ages 12 and 10. Enough said!

Best thing you’ve ever done:
Online dating. I met my husband 17 years ago when online dating was in its infancy. Not only is he my soulmate, he also helped create the two loves of my life - our children. Our relationship also spawned my third baby; our story loosely inspired my first novel, Click: An Online Love Story.

Biggest mistake:
Letting petty family squabbles impact relationships I have with people I care about.




EXCERPT FROM LINKS


I stand but hesitate when I see Tamika's disapproving look. Fi notices as well. "It's okay, T. I got this," she says, motioning for me to follow her back. When we get to her small office, she closes the door and gestures for me to sit on a red vinyl chair, circa 1972. She stands in front of me, leaning against the desk, and crosses her arms in front of her chest. "Spill!"

"Where should I start?"

"At the beginning." She walks around to her chair behind the desk and pulls out a yellow legal pad.

For the next half hour, I go over my encounter with Garrett, from the moment we bumped into each other and he didn't recognize me, to the embarrassment of being called 'Glasses.'

Fi takes notes furiously on her pad and grins, nods, and cringes at all the appropriate times. When I finish, she puts her pen down and asks, "Do you want the 'best friend experience' or the 'brilliant legal mind experience'?"

I can't help but laugh. "Are they mutually exclusive?"

"They are," she says nodding.

"Okay. I want the best friend experience."

She rushes around from behind the desk, wraps her arms around me soothingly. "I'm so sorry, hon. That sounds just awful. Let's go get margaritas tomorrow and drown our sorrows in tequila and lime wedges."

"Thanks, Fi. You're the best."

"Anytime," she says, rubbing my back. She pulls away and walks around to the back of her desk. She sits down and puts the legal pad to the side. I can't help but notice the writing scrawled across it.

"Just for kicks, what would you have said if I had asked for the 'brilliant legal mind experience'?"

"You sure you want to know?" Her lips pull into a grim line. Honestly, I'm not sure I do want to know, but curiosity gets the better of me.

"Lay it on me," I say.

"You need to get laid. Not the kind of bland, missionary style sex you had with Alex. You need hot heat, sweating up the sheets, crazy animal sex."

I bust out laughing. "That's your brilliant legal advice. Crazy animal sex?"

"Yes. That's my brilliant legal advice," she says with complete seriousness. "Listen, hon, it's been a year since that insecure jerk Keane dumped you. I have no doubt it's been even longer since you've, well, you know." She wags her eyebrows up and down. "Before that, you only seriously dated Travis the cheater and Alex who, let's face it, despite being completely gonzo for you, was a cold fish and a bore. It's time to stop comparing every man to this fantasy of Garrett Stephens and just do it with him to get it out of your system. He asked you out for Saturday night. Go! Enjoy!"

"I don't compare every man to Garrett," I snap at her.

"Don't you?" she asks, looking down at me sternly.   

"I'm offended you even suggested that." She looks at me, her sharp eyes boring into me, like she can read my every thought and knows I'm full of it. I imagine this is how she bears down on witnesses on the stand. I don't like being on the receiving end of that look.

"Even if that's true," I start and she nods her head, "and I'm not conceding it is." I point my finger at her. "Even if he did mean to ask me out, there's no way it's a good idea. He's a total player. It would only be one night of fun and I don't think I could get over that kind of hurt."


"Then you need to get over it now. Sorry for the tough love, hon, but you need to move past the fantasy of this man and find someone passionate and amazing who is deserving to love you for all of the great things you have to offer including your messed-up childhood and your incredible success today.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Becker is a romance writer whose previous novels include Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click. The books, about a young woman's search for love online in Los Angeles, have been called, “a fast read that will keep you entertained,” “a fun, quick read for fans of Sex and the City,” and “hard to put down.” The first in the series was optioned for a major motion picture.

Lisa’s writings about online dating have been featured in Cupid’s Pulse, GalTime.com, Single Edition, The Perfect Soulmate, Chick Lit Central and numerous other book blogs and websites.

As Lisa's grandmother used to say, "For every chair, there's a rush." Lisa is now happily married to a man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone!

Connect with Lisa:

Website  |  Facebook  |  TwitterGoodreads  |  Book Trailer  

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Kobo 

Friday, July 14, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: JANE HASELDINE




ABOUT THE BOOK


In Jane Haseldine’s new novel of riveting suspense, Detroit newspaper reporter Julia Gooden is up against the city’s most devious criminal—and her own painful past. Julia Gooden knows how to juggle different lives. A successful crime reporter, she covers the grittiest stories in the city while raising her two young boys in the suburbs. But beneath that accomplished façade is another Julia, still consumed by a tragedy that unfolded thirty years ago when her nine-year-old brother disappeared without a trace.

Julia’s marriage, too, is a balancing act, as she tries to rekindle her relationship with her husband, Assistant District Attorney David Tanner, while maintaining professional boundaries. David is about to bring Nick Rossi to trial for crimes that include drug trafficking, illegal gambling, and bribery. But the story becomes much more urgent when a courthouse bomb claims several victims—including the prosecution’s key witness—and leaves David critically injured.

Though Julia is certain that Rossi orchestrated the attack, the case against him is collapsing, and his power and connections run high and wide. With the help of Detective Raymond Navarro of the Detroit PD, she starts following a trail of blackmail, payback, and political ambition, little imagining where it will lead. Julia has risked her career before, but this time innocent lives—including her children’s—hang in the balance, and justice may come too late to save what truly matters . . .


JANE HASELDINE ANSWERS TWENTY QUESTIONS


1.    Love or money?
       Love, of course! And lots of it!

2.    Plain or peanut?
       Plain, but with plenty of chocolate, please.

3.    Beef or chicken?
       Besides fish, I’m a vegetarian these days, so neither. But I have no problem with people (my
       husband and two little boys included) digging into a juicy steak or a tub of KFC.

4.    Coffee or tea?
       My dad was from England, so it seemed like it was always teatime in our house growing up. But,
       unless I’m under the weather, I’m a coffee gal, all the way. It makes me drowsy just thinking
       about this question. Any chance you have a cup?

5.    Nope. I'm a sweet tea girl. Sorry! Oxford comma: yes or no?
       I’m a former newspaper reporter where I covered the crime beat (like my main character, Julia
       Gooden).  It seems like every editor I worked for had a different preference, so I’m likely a bit
       schizophrenic on the Oxford comma, (and I find that in the original drafts of my manuscripts,
       I’m that way too-sometimes I use it and sometimes I don’t). But if I had to take a side, I guess
       I’m an Oxford comma chick.

6.    Hardback or Kindle?
       This probably sounds weird, but I love the smell of books. I don’t own a Kindle. I’m a hardcover
       person by far. I love holding a book in my hands when I’m curled up in my reading chair at
       home.

7.    Salty or sweet?
       That’s like asking me which one of my kids I like better. I plead the fifth. Chips and chocolate
       are equal in my book.

8.    City or country?
       I’m a big city chick. I’ve lived in Boston, San Francisco, and New York. If you stick me in a
       strange city I’ve never been to before, I’ll be able to navigate the subway system fairly easily.
       But if I’m in the woods, I’ll be lost forever. Luckily, my husband is a big outdoorsman, so we
       balance each other out.

9.  Dog or cat?
      I’m crazy for animals and will take in any stray. I adopted three stray kittens and fed and got
      veterinary services for a bunch of stray cats that used to hang out on my mother’s porch. I’d have
      a household of dogs and cats if I could, but my husband won’t let me. I love dogs and cats
      equally.

10.  Laptop or desktop?
       Laptop most definitely.  I’ve spent my life moving for jobs or for the adventure of it, so my
       computer needs to be mobile too.

11.   Health food or junk food?
        Health food most of the time, but I have been known to drink beer and eat chips.


12.   Mountains or beach?
        I love the beach. I grew up in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and later Gloucester, Massachusetts. I
        can’t imagine life without the ocean.

13.  Gourmet or diner?
        I like both! When I used to live in San Francisco, every Sunday I’d eat at Fog City Diner. But
       whether I’m at a roadside diner in the middle of nowhere with a great piece of pie or drinking a
        lovely glass of Sancerre at a five-star French restaurant, I’m good.

14.  Sweet or unsweet? (Tea of course.)
       I hope this is not a reflection of my personality, but unsweet.

15.  (Gasp!) Humor or drama?
        You need both. In bad situations, we have to laugh, or else we’ll wind up in the corner, rocking
         back and forth. I write suspense novels, but I always try to instill some humor in them.

16.  Dr. Seuss or Mr. Spock?
        My youngest son just graduated from kindergarten, so I have to give props to Dr. Seuss right
        now. “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” Thanks for the inspiration, Dr. Seuss!

17.  Halloween or Christmas?
       Oh, Christmas, definitely. I love how excited my children get in the morning when they come
       downstairs. There’s a homeless man who lives in his car that’s parked at the local library, and
       I’ve been bringing him food on Christmas for years. I honestly get as much joy when I share my
       family’s meal with him than any gift I receive.

18.  Spring of fall?
       I live in Southern California now, so we really don’t have a change of seasons. I grew up on the
       East Coast, so I miss the fall.

19.  Morning or night?
       I seem to always do my best writing after I put my kids to sleep.

20.  Fame or fortune?
       I think fame can do some strange things to your head if you let it. Fortune probably could too.
       But I’d rather be recognized for my work and have people read my stories than become rich from
       it.





EXCERPT FROM DUPLICITY

Chapter 1

Glenlivet, light on the rocks. A cocktail waitress with bright fuchsia lipstick delivers the drink and motions her head in the direction of the aged fifty-something women two tables down. The recipient of the cocktail turns his head toward the hoots and low whistles from the likely recent divorcees who are ogling him like a lusty spectator sport.

“Want to join us, hon?” the ringleader asks and adjusts her leopard print halter-top to reveal an extra inch of orange, tanned cleavage. In case her intent wasn’t clear enough, the woman scoops a sugar cube from her champagne cocktail, places it between her teeth and starts sucking.

“No thank you,” the businessman answers coolly and places the unwanted drink back on the cocktail waitress’ tray.

He turns his back on the spurned women and locks in on a tall, willowy blond in a white dress that clings to her slender curves as she moves fluidly across the casino floor in his direction.

She pauses at his table, slides into the empty seat across from him and carefully tucks a leather briefcase between her legs.

The rowdy commotion from the neighboring table of women abruptly stops as they wordlessly concede, they’ve been bested by a thoroughbred.

The businessman slips an Italian charcoal grey suit coat over his tall and tightly muscled frame. He tips back the last few sips of the drink he ordered for himself ten minutes earlier and heads toward the lobby, not bothering to look back. He knows the blond will follow.

In the elevator, the mouth of a camera lens captures its occupants’ activities. The pair stand close, but just far enough apart so it doesn’t look obvious they are together, just two attractive strangers in an elevator heading up to their respected rooms. The blond stunner holds the briefcase in her left hand and takes a risk. She lifts her pinky finger up and brushes the back of the businessman’s hand for less than a second.

The elevator arrives on the VIP floor, the best the MGM Grand has to offer.

The blond bends down, slides a key out of the front pocket of the briefcase and opens the hotel room door. Inside, the man stands in front of the floor to ceiling windows. He takes a quick pan of downtown Detroit and then snaps the curtains shut. When it is safe, when they are alone, the blond, now anxious and wanting, drops the briefcase and goes directly for his zipper.

“Wait.” He takes the briefcase over to the bed, opens it, and fans the stack of bills across the mattress like a seasoned blackjack dealer some thirty stories below.

“Two million. You don’t trust me now?” the woman asks with a contrived pout.

He ignores the question until the cash has been fully accounted for.

“Come here,” he commands.

He starts to remove his coat, but she is already there.

“I’ve missed you,” she whispers and cups her long, delicate fingers around his crotch.

He reciprocates by running his hand across the thin silk of her dress directly over her breast, and then squeezes until the blond lets out a gasp.

The blond easily submits when the man pushes her down hard on the bed, letting him believe he still has the upper hand, that he is the aggressor. She stares up at his beautiful face, his breath coming faster now as his body starts to move in a rapid, steady rhythm above her. She doesn’t mind when he closes his eyes. He wants her again, reestablishing her position of control, at least for now. That’s all that matters.

When they are finished, the businessman turns toward the wall in disgust.

“I knew you weren’t through with me yet,” she says. “You take all your hostility out on me in bed. You’re a rough boy, but I like it.”

He ignores her, gets up from the bed, still naked, and heads to the bathroom. The blond is useless to him now. She knows it but still holds on.

“The birthmark on your ass is so sweet. It looks like a crescent moon with a shooting star underneath,” she remarks. “Come back to bed and let me take a closer look.”

The man spins around, anger flashing in his eyes as if the blonde’s comment violated something personal.

“Shut up,” he says.

“No need to talk dirty to me. You know I’ll give you what you want, as long as you give me my share of the money.”

“When it’s over, you’ll get it. That’s the agreement.”

“How do I know you won’t screw me?”

“Because I’m not that guy. The money will be in a safe place.”

“I want access to it.”

“I don’t think so.”

The door to the bathroom slams shut and she is dismissed. Inside the shower, he scrubs every trace of the woman off his body, hoping she will be gone when he comes out. But the blond is still in bed. At least she is sleeping.

The businessman climbs back into his suit, grabs the briefcase and closes the hotel room door quietly behind him. The second elevator in the hallway opens and he disappears inside just as elevator one chimes its arrival to the VIP floor. Its single occupant emerges, a man, squat and thick but moving swiftly like a gymnast. He wears all black, a bulky windbreaker, sweatpants and a baseball cap as if he’s just come from the hotel gym. He lets himself into a room with a key he extracts from a bulky fanny pack that flanks his waist. Inside, he quickly assesses the scene, pulls a tiny camera out from its hiding place inside a fake antique clock on the dresser and tucks it into his coat pocket.

He then retrieves a razor blade and scarf from the pack and heads toward the bed where the blond is still sleeping.

The man moves silently as he eases his body onto the bed. He inches forward across the mattress and then straddles the blond with his hips, locking her in place until she is prone and pinned to the bed. Without opening her eyes, she smiles, thinking her lover has returned. She flicks her tongue across her lips and then opens her mouth expectantly.

“Shhh,” he whispers. “You pay now. We know what you did.”

The woman’s eyes fly open, and she tries to scream out her assailant’s name, but he cuffs one stubby hand across her mouth before she can utter a word. He lifts the razor from his pocket and begins to gently slide the unsharpened side of the blade down her stomach until it reaches the top of her public bone.

“Please!” she begs. “I’ll give you what you want.”

The razor stops short before it makes its final descent.

His breath is warm and steady against her ear. “How do you know what I want?”

“Money. I’ll give it to you.”

He pauses as though considering the request and flicks the dull side of the blade back and forth across her skin.

“God, please. You don’t want money then. Okay. Just tell me what you want and I’ll give it to you.” He shakes his head and teases the sharp edge of the razor blade against her leg.

“Who is it?” he whispers as the razor makes a tiny, precise knick on the inside of her thigh, drawing a single drop of blood that trickles down her ivory skin like a crimson teardrop.

“The name. I’ll give you the name!” she pleads. “Sammy Biggs, the Butcher. He’s the one. I just found out, I swear. I didn’t betray you. He did. Now please! Let me go.”

The hired hand sighs deeply, as if savoring an indulgent pleasure, now finally satisfied. But not quite. Lessons must be learned and never forgotten. The man stuffs the scarf down the woman’s mouth to muffle the pain of her penance. It is engrained in his soul those who sin must atone. He clasps the razor blade between his thumb and middle finger and cuts the blonde’s left earlobe off in one clean slice.

“Hail Mary, full of grace,” he prays as he pulls out a locket from underneath his black T-shirt. He kisses a likeness of the face of the blessed Virgin Mary etched into the front of the gold necklace charm and stuffs his newly won keepsake from the blond into his pocket.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Haseldine is a journalist, former crime reporter, columnist, newspaper editor, magazine writer, and deputy director of communications for a governor. Jane writes the Julia Gooden mystery series for Kensington Publishing.

Connect with Jane:                        Buy the book:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |          Amazon  




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: ERIC JUNEAU





ABOUT THE BOOK


 Dwarves are stout, stubborn folk meant for mountains. They have no place in the forest. It's full of icy rivers, beasts of prey, and bandits. So why are Vala and her friends hiking straight into it?
Though it vexes Vala, the only way to not spend the rest of her life farming is to marry well.  So she'll join the other dwarven girls on the migration to the sacred glen, where they must take a husband or be doomed to spinsterhood. 

But how can she and her friends stand out if the upper class dwarves are going to arrive earlier and make a first impression?  Their only choice is to hike through the unmapped, untamed forest. 

Determined Vala, sassy Darcelle, meek Tarni, and stoic Runia.  Lifelong friends who discover they have less to fear from the forest than the harsh truths about each other.  Which will end first -- their friendship or their lives?




LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT INTERVIEW WITH ERIC JUNEAU



A few of your favorite things:
My iPod - it's my little distract-o-matic
My Kindle - it has all the books I ever want or ever need. Even comic books. I don't use it nearly enough to its full potential.
My stuffed seal, Skruffy. I've had it since I was eight. It was a gift from my uncle who was in the Air Force, stationed in Guam. It was the last Christmas gift I got from him as he died in a plane crash two months later.
Things you need to throw out:
My iPod - it's my little distract-o-matic (okay, I shouldn't really throw it out. Maybe just some of the apps on it.)
I have a black leather trench coat I bought during my "trench coat messiah" period twelve years ago that I never wore. It's in the back of my closet collecting dust.
That tub of ice cream I keep buying from the grocery store.

Things you need in order to write:
A computer with either Word or OpenOffice. (I just bought Scrivener so I don't know if I need that yet).
A thesaurus, preferably online so it's easily searchable.
A period of time where I don't have to worry about interruptions.
Things that hamper your writing:
Interruptions, depression or not getting enough sleep, the existential meaningless of existence
.

Things you love about writing:
Creating totally new worlds and funny characters I'd want to hang out with.
Playing with action figures while still being adult about it.
Creating a thing where there wasn't a thing before.
Things you hate about writing:
Not knowing how it's going until you're finished, and that can take a long time.
Not getting much feedback after you're done, like no one's read it.
The length of time it takes from start to finish.

Hardest thing about being a writer:
You can find the time to write each day, but sometimes, especially if you're not well-established yet, it gets hard to motivate yourself to do it, because you've had so many rejections already. Also, staying off the Internet.
Easiest thing about being a writer:
All you have to do is sit down and do the typey-typey. It's not like hauling logs or mining coal.


Things you never want to run out of:
Electricity, wireless connectivity.
Things you wish you’d never bought:
All these DVDs. I rarely watch them, and I especially never watch the special features or commentary (I'd rather hear from the scriptwriter than the director). And there's too many good, new things on Netflix.


Words that describe you:

Introverted, observant, reflective, logical.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t:
Antisocial, cowardly, callous, easily bored.

Favorite foods:
Barbecue, take-out pizza, chicken sandwiches with lots of mayonnaise, shrimp, salty things, cookies, crispy tater tots.
Things that make you want to throw up: 
Indian food, things with curry, raw onions, cheese fondue

Favorite music:
90s alternative. I've become one of those fuddy-duddys who hates music today by these self-entitled twit children, and music was better back in my day when it was deep and heavy
Music that make your ears bleed:
Lots of hip-hop, including gangsta rap, schmaltzy R&B, southern rap.

Favorite beverage:
Lemonade, Mountain Dew Code Red. Do milkshakes count? Is it a beverage if you can eat it with a spoon? Does that make soup a beverage?
Something that gives you a pickle face:
Mineral water. If you're going to carbonate something, put flavor into it.
IPAs. I like bitter things, like mustard and sauerkraut. But for some reason IPA beers taste like a oil refinery chemical someone made palatable

Favorite smell:
Burning wood, coffee, a clean house.

Something that makes you hold your nose:
Baby food. Smells so processed and aged and icky. I hate seeing it too. It's hard for me to eat when babies are eating nearby. Also vomit.

Something you’re really good at:
Finishing someone's sentence for them, especially when it's because they can't think of the right word.
Trivia. Especially regarding movies.
Something you’re really bad at:
Having a conversation with a stranger IRL or on the phone


People you consider as heroes:
Teachers, daycare providers.
People with a big L on their foreheads:
People who use money or prestige to avoid the law or consequences of punishment.
People who dedicate large swaths of time and energy to trolling or hatemongering just because they can and it's easy.

Last best thing you ate:
A spicy peanut pad thai thing that I made with spare asian noodles.
Last thing you regret eating:
A big old cinnamon roll AND a cream-filled donut at work. If they're going to provide food couldn't they make it a little less fatty sometimes?

Things you’d walk a mile for:
A mile isn't that long. I can walk a mile in half an hour. So I'll say cream puffs.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room:
A bunch of people all looking at me.

Things you always put in your books:

 Something fantastic. Life is too short for the mundanity of real life, I don't need it in my books.
Some sort of reference to my wife, just because it's fun and I can see if she caught it.
Examination of gender issues
Themes of duality (which blends to the gender issues, specifically woman and man).
The word "just" too many times.
Things you never put in your books:
Intentional symbolism
Lovey stuff
Whimsy

Things to say to an author:
"I loved your book. It made me change my mind about such-n-such."
Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:
Something that demonstrates ignorance and ESPECIALLY if you have desire to overcome that ignorance (i.e., being stubborn on an issue or belief).
"When are you going to write about [topic or genre I have no interest in]?"

Favorite places you’ve been:
Cancun, Mexico - I just remember lots of tasty drinks.
Big Sky, Montana - something about the isolation and snow and ski culture.
Places you never want to go to again:
San Francisco - dirty, full of homeless people

Favorite books or genre:
Science fiction, fantasy, coming of age, humor, romance
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Darkness of the Light by Peter David
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Books you would ban:
Never. Even the worst books have something to give, even if it's what "not" to do. I never worry about books corrupting anyone. I worry that they're not providing ideas.

People you’d like to invite to dinner:
Barack Obama, Steven Spielberg, Neil Gaiman, John Green, Hannah Hart.
People you’d cancel dinner on:
Certain presidents with the initials D.T.

Things that make you happy:
My daughters, cats, Disney princesses, Muppets, robots.
Things that drive you crazy:
People driving badly on the road, especially during my commute.

Biggest lie you’ve ever told:
When I was dating my wife in college, I lied to her that I had to do homework, when I was playing video games, just to get a moment's peace.
A lie you wish you’d told:
|I wish I told my sister that she knew what she was talking about regarding my opinions about certain suburban moms. She went to school in Chicago, now lives in Vermont, spent two years in Nepal, and will now be taking a permanent job in Alaska. She has never been married and never lived in suburbia. But the argument we had online, I spent way too much energy and time on. We haven't really spoken to each other since then.

The last thing you did for the first time:

I went to the March for Science, my first protest march and political activism, in Minneapolis. I wrote about it here: http://author-quest.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-march-for-science-write-up.html
Something you’ll never do again:
Keep it to myself when I feel sick or icky. I tried to "be a man" about this headache I had that wouldn't go away. It turned out to be meningitis, and I had to be rushed to the hospital.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Eric Juneau is a software engineer who lives in Minnesota with his wife and two daughters. His stories have been published in Electric Spec and Plasma Frequency. His first novel, Merm-8, was published in Summer 2016 by eTreasures. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses in his journey to become a capital A Author at http://author-quest.blogspot.com.

Connect with Eric:
Twitter  |  Blog  

Buy the book:
Amazon  

Friday, July 7, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: ELLIE ALEXANDER


ABOUT THE BOOK

Torte―everybody’s favorite small-town family bakeshop―is headed for the high seas, where murder is about to make a splash . . .

Jules Capshaw is trying to keep her cool as Torte gets set to make its transformation from quaint, local confectionary café to royal pastry palace. Meanwhile, Jules’s estranged husband Carlos is making a desperate plea for her to come aboard his cruise ship and dazzle everyone with her signature sweets. She may be skeptical about returning to her former nautical life with Carlos but Jules can’t resist an all-expense-paid trip, either. If only she knew that a dead body would find its way onto the itinerary .

“A warm and inviting atmosphere, friendly and likable main characters, and a nasty murder mystery to solve!” ―Fresh Fiction

Now, instead of enjoying tropical drinks on deck between whipping up batches of sea-salted chocolates and flambéing fresh pineapple slices in the kitchen, Jules is plunged into dangerous waters. Her investigation leaves her with more questions than answers: Why can’t anyone on board identify the young woman? And how can she help Carlos keep passengers at ease with a killer in their midst? Jules feels like she’s ready to jump ship. Can she solve this case without getting in too deep?

“A perfect mix for fans of Jenn McKinlay, Leslie Budewitz, or Jessica Beck.” ―Library Journal




LOVE OR HATE INTERVIEW WITH ELLIE ALEXANDER


Things you love about writing:
Finishing a book. I love writing the words, “The end” it’s such a sense of accomplishment. I enjoy the finality of seeing a project from start to finish. Whenever I finish a book I do a little happy dance around my office.
Things you hate about writing:
As much as I love finishing a book, I also hate finishing it. I get so attached to the characters and storyline that when I write the words, “The end” I find myself slightly nostalgic, too. 


Things you love about where you live:
I live in the Pacific Northwest which is home to the most stunning outdoor landscapes—the mountains, wide open spaces, lush forests, gushing rivers, alpine lakes, and a very laidback lifestyle.
Things that make you want to move:

The rain. Need I say more? Without the unrelenting rain, we wouldn’t have such green beauty here in the PNW, but after months and months of slogging through drenching rain and gusty winds, I find myself dreaming of tropical beaches and begging for even a glimpse of the sun. 

Words that describe you: Positive, kind, smiling, carefree, creative, thoughtful.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Stubborn, impulsive, quick to judge, impatient.

Favorite foods:

Cilantro, Greek yogurt, tomatoes, hummus, sweet bread, homemade raspberry jam. Not all together of course.
Things that make you want to throw up: 
Sardines, anchovies, basically anything briny and from the sea.

Favorite music:
I listen to a lot of romantic music when I’m writing the Bakeshop Mysteries. I think in part because Juliet (the heroine) is a romantic at heart. I like singer/songwriters. Words matter. I listen to music for the beat and melody, but most importantly for the words. I love lyrics that move me. Some of my favorite singers are Matt Nathanson, Amos Lee, Ron Pope, and Norah Jones.
Music that make your ears bleed:
Heavy metal. One of my good friends is a huge heavy metal fan, and she’s tried to introduce me to a few of her favorite bands. I can’t listen for more than two seconds. It sounds like screaming to me, and definitely makes my ears bleed.

Favorite beverage:
Coffee! Coffee is more than a beverage, it’s a ritual. I always prepare my coffee the night before. From grinding the beans, to clicking the start button on my coffee maker the entire process is a sensory delight. There’s nothing better than a freshly brewed pot of dark coffee with a decadent splash of thick cream to start the morning. Actually, let’s be honest, I’ll drink coffee pretty much anytime of the day.

Something that gives you a pickle face:
Beet juice. It’s a trend here in the Pacific Northwest. I know that beets are healthy, but I can’t do it. Shudder.

Something you’re really good at:
Listening. My mom was a counselor and was an incredible listener. She was an active listener, not just nodding her head, but really paying attention and probing for more information. I inherited the gift from her and am forever grateful. 

Something you’re really bad at:
Video games. I’m a disaster. My thirteen-year-old son is constantly trying to teach me new techniques, but I’m hopeless. I tend to try to move my body instead of the game controller which makes for hilarious fun as I’m thrashing my arms about in every direction except for where they are supposed to be on the controller. 


Something you wish you could do:

Sing. I’m a terrible singer. I think in a past life I must have been a diva on stage because I love music and will sing at every chance I can get. Just not in front of people.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do:
Clean the bathroom. I mean really shouldn’t we all just pretend like we have no idea how to scrub a toilet so that someone else can do it for us?

I think so! Things you always put in your books:
Recipes! 

Things you never put in your books:
Sex. Nothing racy or risqué in the cozy mystery genre.

Things to say to an author:
This goes for aspiring writers seeking advice and ties into things not to say below. I always appreciate it when someone asking for input and suggestions on their writing has done their research. Whether that’s having already attended a writer’s conference or workshop, or joined a local critique group, even reading books about the publishing industry and then asking specific questions. It definitely makes me excited to want to connect them with resources I might have because I know they’re taking the craft seriously. 

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:
This happened to me at an event recently. An aspiring writer marched up to the front of the line and cutoff a reader waiting to get her book signed. She said, “I’m not here because I have any interest in your books or anything that you write. I’m not waiting in line because I’m not getting a book signed, I’m just here today so that you can call your agent and introduce me to him.” Um, nope. I’m always happy to offer advice to aspiring and new writers, but geez be professional. Or at least polite.

Favorite places you’ve been:
New Zealand, Australia, Italy, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. 

Places you never want to go to again:
Floating down a river (more like a swamp) in Florida that I found out after the fact was swimming with snakes. OMG! NO!!! Nothing against Florida, of course. I would gladly return to Florida, but not with swimming snakes.

Things that make you happy:

My family, sunsets, spring flowers, hiking, baking, reading, singing, random acts of kindness, the smell of books, the smell of bread, snowy winter days curled up with a cup of hot chocolate in front of a crackling fire, rain on hot pavement, sandy beaches, the mountains, coffee, belly laughs. I could go on for pages and pages. 

Things that drive you crazy:
People who don’t abide by the drop off rules in the school parking lot. Seriously, NO left turns, people. No left turns!

Most daring thing you’ve ever done:
Ziplined from the side of a cliff into a pub for a free beer in New Zealand!

Something you chickened out from doing:
Bungee jumping. I made it to the middle of the bridge and had the harness halfway on. Then I made the mistake of looking down and totally chickened out.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ellie Alexander, author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series (St. Martin's Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

Connect with Ellie:

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram 

Buy the book:
Amazon   |  Barnes & Noble  |  Indiebound



Monday, July 3, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: BRIAN MCGILLOWAY



ABOUT THE BOOK

A young man is found in a riverside park, his head bashed in with a rock. The only clue to his identity is an admission stamp for the local gay club.



DS Lucy Black is called in to investigate. As Lucy delves into the community, tensions begin to rise as the man's death draws the attention of the local Gay Rights group to a hate-speech Pastor who, days earlier, had advocated the stoning of gay people and who refuses to retract his statement.

Things become further complicated with the emergence of a far right group targeting immigrants in a local working class estate. As their attacks escalate, Lucy and her boss, Tom Fleming, must also deal with the building power struggle between an old paramilitary commander and his deputy that threatens to further enflame an already volatile situation.



Hatred and complicity abound in the days leading up to the Brexit vote in McGilloway's new Lucy Black thriller. Compelling and current, Bad Blood is an expertly crafted and acutely observed page-turner, delivering the punch that readers of Little Girl Lost have grown to expect.



INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN MCGILLOWAY


Brian, what inspired you to write Bad Blood?

The book began with an incident in Belfast where someone targeted a family of Romanian immigrants by writing ‘Romans Out’ on the wall of their house, seemingly unaware of the fact that Romans come from Rome. It marked one of a number of incidents which suggested a rising wave of right wing aggression which has been replicated elsewhere. In the two weeks after the Brexit vote in the UK, hate crime rose by 46%.  The reasons behind that – and Lucy’s attempt to hold those who enflamed it to justice – formed the heart of the book.

How did you come up with the title?
Titles can be tricky – my past two books had different names in the US than in the UK which caused all kinds of problems with people going to considerable effort to get what they thought was a new books only to discover they’d bought the same book twice. It wasn’t my choice at all, and it really bothered me – having someone read your book is such a privilege that you don’t want anyone to feel they’ve been tricked or to waste money on a book they’ve already read. I spent a long time finding a title for this one that would work for both publishers. The book is about resentment that can poison communities – whether neighborhoods or teams of colleagues or even families – so Bad Blood made sense.
   
Do you have another job outside of writing?
I teach English Literature full time to 11 – 18-year-olds, which is a lovely job to have. I love books and literature, so having two careers that allow me to spend time working with books and talking about them is great.

Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?
A bit of both. I structure the books in terms of the days of an investigation so at any stage in the book I know generally what the key events are going to be in the current day I’m writing, but not so much where it will lead. That way I know where I’m going each time I sit down to write, but the process is as much a journey of discovery for me as I hope it will be for the reader.

What song would you pick to go with your book?
Great question. Each of my books tends to start with a piece of music – a tuning fork if you like that sets the tone for the novel. Hurt/Someone You Know was originally called Family Life after the Blue Nile song that was the tuning fork for that song. I found myself listening to a lot of Hans Zimmer and Max Richter while I was writing this one. Leonard Cohen’s "You Want it Darker" probably bled its way in there too.

What are your favorite books a) as a child b) as a teenager c) as an adult?

a) John Diamond, by Leon Garfield b) The Outsiders by SE Hinton c) Too many to name; Snow Falling on Cedars, The Name of the Rose, The Killing Kind, Last Car to Elysian Fields, Black and Blue . . .

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
Just finished Steve Cavanagh’s The Liar which is fantastic, and started Haylen Beck’s Here and Gone which is as wonderfully written and compulsive as I’d have expected. Both were proofs.

Name one thing you couldn’t live without.
My family. That’s an easy one.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
That’s a tricky one. A friend made me a leather-bound copy of my book the Nameless Dead which is just beautiful and has quite a bit of sentimental value for me. However, the book which I most re-read and love reading each time is probably The Great Gatsby, so I suspect I’d have to go with that.

Your last meal would be . . .
Irish stew, but only made the way that I make it myself with meatballs and the potatoes quartered so that you need to eat it with a spoon!

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?
There’s a great line in Tom Wait’s "Christmas Card from a Hooker" about the speaker buying a used car lot and never selling any of the cars – just driving a different one every day. That’s how I’d feel in a bookshop. Every time I walk into No Alibis in Belfast, I’m so envious of Dave Torrans the owner – and so in awe. I discovered my love of crime fiction there; it’s a very special place.

You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?
A house on Lake Garda in Italy. We’ve been a few times for holidays, and it’s just beautiful. And Italian ice cream is just the best!

Where’s home for you?
We live in Strabane, which is just on the Northern side of the Irish border. I grew up in Derry, which is about twenty minutes drive from here. I consider all of it home.

Is there anything in particular that you do to help the writing flow? Music? Acting out the scene? Long showers?
Music certainly, but generally just keeping plugging away at it. It doesn’t matter if what you write is useless; you can always revise it or scrap it in the rewrites, but at least you’re keeping the story moving forward.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." From The Great Gatsby

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love the cinema, so I go there as often as I can. There’s something about the ritual of going to the movies that is still kind of magical.

What are you working on now?
I’ve started a new Devlin novel after a 5 year break. I’m enjoying it so far . . .


EXCERPT FROM BAD BLOOD


The hall was already packed by the time Detective Inspector Tom Fleming arrived. The air was sweet with perfume and talc and, beneath that, from the farmers still wearing their work clothes, the scent of sweat and the smell of the earth.

The congregation were on their feet, being led in the opening hymn by Pastor James Nixon. Fleming smiled apologetically at those he squeezed past to get to a free seat in the third row from the back. The hymn finished, the assembly took their seats just as Fleming reached his, and settled to listen to the words of Pastor Nixon.

‘My brothers and sisters, it is a great honour to be here with you this evening and to see so many of you have taken the time to come and pray with me.’ His voice was strong despite his age, a rich baritone still carrying the inflections of his native Ballymena accent.

‘But it is a time of great challenge for us all. Daily, all good people face an assault on their morality with the rampant homosexual agenda that assails us and belittles everything we hold to be true and dear. Men of conscience are tried for refusing to make a cake celebrating homosexuality or print leaflets and posters furthering that agenda. And on the other side of the border, the Irish Republic has voted to allow homosexuals to marry, as if two women playing house is no different to the consummated union of a man and a woman. As if it is not a perversion which shames us all.

A few voices appended his comment with ‘Amen.’

Nixon raised his hands, acknowledging their support. ‘There are those who would silence me, silence us. They tell us we must accept homosexuals in our town, our shops, allow homosexual bars and public houses to operate on our streets. We must allow sodomites to teach our children and to corrupt our young. We must stay silent while a new Gomorrah is built next to our homes and farms, our shops and schools. They say I am dangerous. They say I preach hatred. They say I should be silent. But I say this: I say that there is no danger in truth. I say that there is no hatred in goodness. And I say that I will not be silent.’

Another chorus of ‘Amens’ greeted his proclamation, accompanied by a smattering of applause which began at the front and rippled its way through the hall.

‘I will not stand idly by as our families are exposed to sin and depravity. I will not countenance the laws of the land being used to protect profane persons, allowing them to indulge their lustful practices, forcing those of us with consciences to humour this lifestyle. It is an abomination. The people who practise it are abominations and, like those before them, they will end in fire and brimstone.’

Fleming glanced around at the others in the congregation. While one or two shifted uncomfortably in their seats, for the most part the listeners sat intently waiting for Nixon to continue.

‘Friends, only last week, I read of an African nation – a heathen nation, a Godless nation – who arrested two men for homosexual acts. One of these men was sixteen. Sixteen! And do you know what they did to the pair of them? They stoned them. They took them out of the town and they threw rocks at them until the pair of them were dead. And do you know what I thought? Shall I tell you?’
An elderly lady in the front row called out ‘Yes,’ to the amusement of those around her. Nixon smiled mildly at her, as if indulging her.

‘Stoning was too good for those men. Every rock that struck them was a just reward for their sinfulness, their immorality, their ungodly behaviour. Every drop of their blood that stained the ground was a reminder that they deserved to die. It was the wages of their sin!’

***
Excerpt from Bad Blood by Brian McGilloway. Copyright © 2017 Brian McGilloway. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian McGilloway was born in Derry, Northern Ireland. After studying English at Queen’s University, Belfast, he took up a teaching position in St Columb’s College in Derry, where he was Head of English. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling Lucy Black series, all to be published by Witness. Brian lives near the Irish borderlands with his wife and their four children.

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

Buy the book:
Amazon