Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Talking with Rico Lamoureux

Power of the Pen:

There's no greater fuel for a pen than life experience, creativity, and a love for storytelling. A fact which lead Rico Lamoureux to the realization that he was destined to become an author. From a childhood of abuse and poverty to overcoming life-altering health conditions. From being trained in an ancient martial art to finding his soul mate. With an artistic heart and an ambitious spirit, this diverse journey Rico takes the reader on is indeed an intriguing and unforgettable one!

Welcome, Rico. Your book is an autobiography. Does it cover your whole life up to this point, or does it deal with a specific time in your life?

It covers my whole life up to the present. All the significant chapters so far.

Why did you decide to write an autobiography?

I wanted to let people know who I am. Especially those who support my ongoing work as an author. In addition, I’ve always known that I would someday write my life story. Early on, when I looked around and realized I was already experiencing more than other kids my age (most of which were not good experiences, but rather the harsh realities of coming from an abusive and poverty-stricken home) something inside told me that I would one day share my unique story with the world. And as if fate knew this as well, the cards I was dealt, the curveballs that were thrown at me, continued to be unpredictable and very challenging as I grew older.
And now I had arrived. I knew in my heart that I had finally come to the point in my life where it was time to pick up a pen and tell my personal story.

What will others learn from reading your autobiography?

I have learned a lot about myself from learning about others. I believe the same can be true from those readers who choose to read my autobiography.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

People who know me, who know my story, have told me I remind them of the song, I Believe I Can Fly, by R. Kelly. That would probably go along well with the book.



Where’s home for you?
Home will always be my beloved USA. But for the past 10 years home has also been beside my beloved wife, who is from the other side of the world, the Philippines. So for a decade now I’ve sacrificed my wonderful, diverse land of opportunity and have chosen to prevail under harsh Third World conditions. We hope the Power of the Pen will allow us to come home soon.

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

One weird thing about the Philippines—Compared to back home, Christmas is not really Christmas. Instead of being wrapped up and cozy in a winter wonderland, you sweat up a storm. From the absence of the aromatic smell of Christmas trees, to the all-around holiday spirit. This will be the twelfth Christmas I’ll be dreaming of a real Christmas. One day I’ll be able to show my wife how it’s really done!

One nice thing about the Philippines—tax Is already included in the displayed price of things. No having to figure it out before you get to the register.

One fact—The Philippines is the texting capital of the world. And countless people have walked into me as a result!

Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

When I write my novellas I have a general outline in my head, but most of what I write naturally comes about with the flow of my pen. (That’s right, I’m the old-fashioned type. A pen is still more natural to me than a keyboard-ha!ha!)

Do you have another job outside of writing?

No, I practice what I preach when I say follow your passion. I’m grateful to my readers for keeping my pen moving!

Rico, I certainly hope your pen continues to move and you reach your dream of returning to the USA. Thanks for talking to us about your life and your book.

Readers, on Thursday read an excerpt of Rico’s book, Power Of The Pen, on A Blue Million Books.

About Rico:
Ten years ago Rico Lamoureux left behind everything he ever knew and headed for the other side of the world in the name of love. Never could he have imagined what lay ahead.

Faced with overwhelming obstacles under Third World conditions, he refused to return home without his soul mate and therefore remains among the harsh environment he describes as “the complete opposite of the Land of Opportunity.”

With so many years having passed, Rico’s unwavering American spirit has kept him going strong, now using his passion for storytelling to pave the way towards a better future.

“I’m writing my way back home, one pen stroke at a time.” 

Where you can find Rico:


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Book excerpt from The Happenstance Marshall, by Michael Ogara

Book blurb:

The small lake front City of Safe Haven Harbor is broke, but no one can figure out why. A new city manager is hired to uncover the cause, and Millie Boyd is thrown together with him. Together they search for the source of the city's financial troubles. Millie is nominated for election as city marshal, and it’s a position she needs if she is to unravel the dangerous mystery completely.

Chapter 1 – Millie

Millie screamed it, “What do you mean I don’t understand! She wasn’t just my sister-in-law; we were best friends. How dare you!”

Shamus knew he had gone too far and was flirting with danger so he hung his head, “Now, now, you know I didn’t really mean it.”

Millie was furious! She and Shamus’s wife Cathy had been so close that the pain of her death was like a knife through Millie’s heart. There was physical pain. She knew how Shamus must feel losing such a wonderful wife but that did not give him the right to bully her and she wasn’t going to have any of it.

Millie let it all go, “You are doing it again, just like when our ma died. Hiding in the bottle and getting mean is no way to grieve and it’s dangerous.”

She snatched the bottle from the table before Shamus realized what was happening and she ran out the back door into the night throwing the liquor container against the nearest tree. It didn’t break. Now all her fury was focused on that bottle. The back porch light cast on it and it glittered like a snake in the grass; it lay there mocking her.

She marched over and picked it up. It was still partially full and she swung it with all her might against the tree. The force of the impact reverberated up her arm and it hurt. It still did not break. Now she was beyond furious. She emptied the bottle on the grass and went into the garage, laid it on the concrete, grabbed a hammer and broke the bottle. She invested all her fury in the process breaking it into small pieces as the glass flew everywhere. When it was in a million little shards, she smiled with satisfaction. The satisfaction didn’t last long.

Millie heard the car throwing gravel as it tore out of the driveway. She ran to the front of the house to see the taillights of her car disappear. She knew where Shamus was heading and he was in no shape to be driving. How dare he steal her car! She started walking toward Joe’s Pool Hall.

Shamus was sitting at the bar nursing a beer chaser for the whiskey he had just downed when a determined Millie stormed in. Shamus did not notice her coming. He felt the tap on his shoulder and swiveled on the chair. Sitting there he was just the right height. She cold cocked him. The power started from Millie’s legs through her pivoting hips and the vicious right uppercut took him squarely and he dropped off the stool like an anchor dropped in the deepest part of the lake. She saw him go down as though it was in slow motion.

Millie turned to the men at the pool tables, “It seems my brother has had more to drink than he could handle. Would a couple of you stout fellows help me get him in my car?” She bent over and took her car keys from his pocket.

Everyone in town knew Millie and two volunteers carried Shamus and unceremoniously stuffed him in the back seat. Millie drove back to her place, left Shamus in her car and went inside. She flopped across her bed and cried herself to sleep.

She woke to the sun shining in her window. Coffee, she needed coffee. She made some and sat at the kitchen table savoring it. She heard the car door slam shut.

Shamus staggered through the door lamenting, “Man, I must have really tied one on last night.” He abruptly turned and ran back outside. Millie could hear him throwing up and she hoped it was on the lawn. She was not in a cleaning mood today.

She went to the bathroom and locked herself in and showered. It was a long hot shower. Her tears mixed with the shower water. She stayed under the shower head until the water started telling her the hot water tank was just about drained. She got out, dried her hair, brushed her teeth and dressed.

Outside she found her brother was asleep curled up on the porch floor. She left him there. She took the wad of one dollar bills from her pocket. She had exactly thirteen dollars left to live on until her unemployment check came. Screw it, she thought. Her car had a full tank of gas so she could get by. She drove to the Hi-Way Diner and treated herself to breakfast.

To read more of The Happenstance Mar
shall go to: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/109347

Michael Ogara has published eight novels, six of which are in the Millie Mystery Thriller series. The published eBook titles in the Millie series (in chronological order) are: The Happenstance Marshal, The Deliberate Sheriff, The Persistent Sheriff, The Windfall Sheriff, The Mogul Sheriff and The Mentor Sheriff. The seventh book "The Caring Sheriff" will be released soon.

Michael is a full time writer of mystery thrillers, thrillers, and historical action adventure novels. He lives in Missouri with his wife Ronda. 

Find Michael at:



Saturday, October 27, 2012

Meet Millie Boyd

Today I'm happy to be talking with Millie Boyd, the main character in The Happenstance Marshall by Michael O’Gara. Before we get started, here's a little bit about Millie:
When life gave Millie lemons she set out to save a town and got a badge and a gun in the process. Her friends and community believed in her when others didn’t and gave her the chance others wouldn’t. Through a series of adventures and misadventures Millie became a true folk hero because she has grit and smarts. It doesn’t hurt that she has the “nose of a blood hound” and a natural aptitude for seeing what others don’t.

Welcome, Millie! Tell us, how did you first meet your writer?
I really didn’t have any say about meeting him. Poof and there I was on a page one day. He didn’t ask if I wanted to be quirky and down to earth. He just wrote me that way.

Want to dish about him/her?
I can’t tell you what I really think of him or he’ll write me into some really humiliating situation. He’s done it before when I didn’t even provoke him. Go figure.

Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
You’re kidding right? A townie gal like me makes it big time? No way!

Way. In fact, you're a figment of Michael's imagination. What is your least favorite characteristic your writer has given you?
That I’m petite. Why couldn’t I have been some tall Amazon type? It would have made my life so much easier. I had to work really hard before anyone would take me seriously, and I became a peace officer more by luck than because anyone would hire me as a cop. There is a lot of prejudice against smaller people. Can you believe my writer once had me described as five foot nothing? I’m over five two.

Do have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?
Yeah, I’d like to beat the crap out of him for making my life so difficult. I won’t do it though, because I’m not like that. He thinks solving mysteries and taking down the bad guys is a lark. It’s not. It’s hard work and it’s dangerous. At least he gave me a lot of interesting friends and family.

At least there's that. If you had a free day with no responsibilities, and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
Go fishin’ of course.

Of course. What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?
Some people make the mistake of not taking me seriously at first. They don’t do that a second time.

Yikes. Okay, other side of the coin--what's the worst thing that's happened in your life? What did you learn from it?
It is really hard to lose a loved one. I learned though, that life is for the living, so mourn, then get on with life. Life is not always fair and you might as well accept that, as well as sometimes you get what you don’t really deserve.

It sounds like Michael has also given you some common sense. 
Tell us about your best friend.
I have two BFFs. Doris owns the diner, and she’s a successful business woman, and she’s good looking too. Most of the men in town are scared to death of a woman who’s smart, successful, and good looking. They can handle one of those characteristics but not when they’re combined. She doesn’t have much of a social life. Anna is a retired schoolteacher and is now the Mayor. She taught me in school. Despite our age differences me, Doris, and Anna are good buddies.

What are you most afraid of?
It’s a close thing between being shot and having my heart broken again. Now that I think about it, I think I’d rather be shot than fall in love again and have another husband die.

What’s the best trait your author has given you? What’s the worst?

I like that he has given me a good heart but he’s made me a little rough around the edges. I wonder if the rough edges will wear off over time?

What do you like best about Mitch? Least?

Mitch is a hunk. His problem is that he is too self absorbed.

Oh no. Not another one of those. Watch out for him, Millie. How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?
Life is good. I have a purpose that comes with a badge and a gun. I sure could use a husband though. I’m not picky. He just needs to be a hunk, smart, witty, hard working, romantic, and adore me. I don’t want a lot really.

Sounds reasonable to me. I'll put in a good word with Michael. See if he can't work something out for you. What aspect of your author’s writing style do you like best?
The people who read about me say they really like me and my friends and my interesting story. Of course there is a lot going on. I like it when things are happening.
As one person who read about me put it, “I found this book to be truly enchanting. It is a rare blend of mystery, romance, and humor, which is rare in books these days. It is well written, with strong character development and good chemistry between the players. When I finished it, I was eager to find the next book in the series. I haven't enjoyed a book this much in years.”

You're a very intriguing character, Millie. I'm looking forward to reading all of the books in the Millie Mystery series. Thanks for being here. And good luck on that hunt for a good man!

About Millie's author:
Michael lives in Missouri with his wife Ronda. He is a full time writer of mystery, thriller, and historical fiction (action adventure) novels. Michael is a graduate of Fontbonne University and earned both Master of Fine Arts and Master of Business Administration Degrees there. He is also a graduate of St. Lawrence College where he studied Business Accounting. His past experience includes work as a newspaper reporter, news analyst, editor, accountant, financial analyst, artist, City Administrator and Town Manager. He has lived in regions as diverse as the Canadian sub-arctic and Florida.

Find Millie on Amazon
Find Michael Ogara

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Talking With Michael Ogara

About The Happenstance Marshall:
When life gives Millie Boyd lemons, she sets out to save a town and she gets a badge and a gun in the process. It all starts because the small quaint lakefront City of Safe Haven Harbor is not prospering in spite of its natural advantages as a tourist destination. People and businesses should be knocking down the doors to develop in Safe Haven, but they aren’t. The city can’t afford to pay its bills and implemented lay-offs. The residents are at a loss as to why their community is languishing and cash poor when other communities close by are booming. People are finally ready for change, and the newly elected reform council has hired a young man named Mitch O’Keefe to unravel the city’s financial problems.

Mitch is thrown together through some very odd circumstances with Millie who is facing her own set of challenges. She is initially a reluctant partner to the attractive Mitch as they work to solve the mystery of why the city has no money. In doing so they set the stage for Millie to discover her talent for unraveling mysteries which exposes them both to danger. Millie is nominated for election as city marshal, and she accepts, for she knows there is more to the city's problem than a lack of cash. To fully solve the mystery she needs to be city marshal. She does not realize the danger being marshal will expose her to or the adventures and misadventures she will become involved in along the way.

I’m very pleased to welcome Michael Ogara to A Blue Million Books. Michael, first tell us how long have you been writing.
In one form or another I’ve been writing for all of my professional life; forty plus years. Most of my writing was related to writing: reports; analysis; policy papers; professional journal articles; editorials; newspaper articles; and newspaper features.

How did you go from that to writing novels?

I started fiction writing in 2011. Since then I’ve written twelve novels, eight of which are published as eBooks and all of them have been rated between four and half to five stars out of five.

Excellent. You like writing and it shows. What do you like best about writing?

What I like best is the act of storytelling and the creativity involved.

What’s your least favorite thing about writing?

If the question hadn’t stipulated “about writing” I would have said marketing is my least favorite thing about being a writer. I guess because of the way the question was asked, I’ll go with editing. To some degree I enjoy editing, because I consider it a very necessary and important function. A book that is poorly edited takes away from the flow of the story. For that reason I will usually leave a finished book sit for a while after my and my editor’s first review. Then I’ll do another edit after several weeks have passed.

I think that's important too. And I’m with you on both counts—marketing and editing are necessary evils. I do think marketing is part of an author’s writing life, so I’ll take that answer too!

I love the title
The Happenstance Marshal. How did you come up it?
The title is indicative of how the main character Millie becomes city marshal: by a chance circumstance. “The Chance Circumstance Marshal” doesn’t do it as a title thus the title “The Happenstance Marshal.”  

Makes sense to me. Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I don’t use a formal outline because that would stifle my creativity. It’s a personal preference, and I believe there are successful authors in both camps. I find outlines to be too confining. I’m mostly an “organic” creative writer, so I start my books with a general concept and let my imagination carry me, but often I’ll go back and change something to ensure cohesiveness.

Did you have any say in your cover art? Tell us about the artist.

I go beyond having a say in my cover art. My wife and I both have degrees in visual art so we design the book covers. I’ve done about half of them on my own.

I am impressed. What about imaginary friends? Do you
have them? When do they talk to you? 
That is an interesting question, and I would have to admit the “good guys and gals” in my books are sort of imaginary friends.

Do they tell you what to write or do you poke them with a Q-tip? I do think, figuratively speaking, that the way an author develops a character increasingly “tells” the author what to write for them as they participate in the story.

I like how you did that. You didn't confirm or deny. Very shrewd, Michael. How do you handle criticism of your work?

If it’s constructive, I’ll analyze it and determine if I think the criticism has merit, and if it has, I’ll take appropriate action. I’ve changed some minor parts of two books during the edit process because of constructive criticism.

Do you have a routine for writing? Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?
I do have something of a routine, but for me the creative process does not seem to be limited to a time of day. I have developed discipline, and I usually write at least six hours a day and often a lot more. Generally I start between seven and eight each morning and work until three or four in the afternoon then I’ll often do some more writing in the evening. There are days when I’m on a roll I’ll work twelve to fourteen hours. Some weeks I’ll work five days and some weeks six days. Occasionally I’ll only work four full days in a week.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“I’m getting tired of having to shoot dumbass criminals.” --Sheriff Millie.

I love it! Tell us what you're working on now.

I’m working on a new novel (number thirteen, and no I’m not superstitious) while getting the four new novels I’ve finished ready for release.

Why do you write?

Writing for me is like breathing; something I have to do. I have come to realize it is what I was created to do, and I enjoy it immensely.

And it shows. Michael, thank you for sharing your passion of writing with us. Good luck with the ones to come. I hope you'll stop in again when you launch another book. And folks, Michael's also a blogger. Check it out!

A  word from Michael about Michael:
I'm a full time writer of mystery, thriller and historical action adventure novels. I used to do other things including: newspaper reporter, editor, visual artist, analyst, and city manager. I didn't enjoy any of those as much as being a fiction writer.

I live in Missouri with my wife Ronda who designed some of my book covers. We both graduated from Fontbonne University in St. Louis. I earned both Master of Fine Arts and Master of Business Administration degrees there. My favorite thing to do is write books.
I have published eight novels, six of which are in the Millie Mystery Thriller series. The published eBook titles in the Millie series (in chronological order) are: The Happenstance Marshal, The Deliberate Sheriff, The Persistent Sheriff, The Windfall Sheriff, The Mogul Sheriff, and The Mentor Sheriff. The seventh book, The Caring Sheriff, will be released soon.

I have also written a thriller titled Crossing Cassandra and a second book in the series is now finished and awaiting release. I have also written a historical action adventure Sword, Cross and Crown. 

I presently have four novels finished and awaiting publication. 
Where you can find Michael:

Goodreads author page

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Excerpt: Broken Build by Rachelle Ayala

She drove down Trimble and turned left on Zanker. She had to install the new fileserver today. A single car sat in the Shopahol parking lot. Jen pulled next to it and smashed the curb with a sickening crunch. Damn. She reversed it and cut the engine.

A gust blew dried leaves in a circle on the sidewalk. Jen locked her car and bent to examine the damage—a cracked air dam on her brand new Eclipse. She dropped her keys and spit on her finger to rub out the black scratch.

The neighboring car’s bumper stretched over the sidewalk. That’s why she had misjudged. Her eyes widened. Dried brownish streaks flaked off the bumper and grill, and a tuft of black hair was pinched to the license plate holder.

Jen stood and backed from the car—a white Camry! She must not scream. Drive away. Pretend she didn’t see it. Whose car was this? Her breath came in sharp puffs, and she doubled over, trying not to hyperventilate or faint. She quickly retrieved her keys from the sidewalk. A pair of trousered legs met her on the way up. The scream erupted from her throat, and strong hands clamped her wrists.

Steel-grey eyes bore into hers. “Calm down. Are you okay?”

Words scattered from her throat. She tried to pull away, but the man, the CEO, the delectable Dave Jewell, held her tight. He picked up her backpack and pulled her toward the building.

“I-I ah…” Jen gasped, but she followed him through the door.

“Let’s get you some water.” He handed her the backpack and steered her through the lobby toward his office. “It’s only a little front end damage. I’m sure your insurance will take care of it.”

He appeared calm, too calm to have blood on his car. Jen’s brain burst with silent screams. She forced herself to breathe evenly. A CEO wouldn’t be driving a Camry, would he?

There had to be an innocent explanation, and she sure as hell didn’t want to get involved. She’d pretend nothing was wrong. Consciously relaxing, she disengaged from his hold and accepted the bottle of water. “Sure. I’ll be down in the server room. I hope Bruce unpacked the boxes and racked the filer. Is that his car parked next to mine?”

Dave looked up from his Blackberry. “Huh? I have to go. I came to grab a file. Let me know if you need anything else.”

He jingled his keys, one with a Toyota emblem, and he patted her shoulder. “Don’t worry about your car. I’ll pay for the damage. I should have had parking blocks installed, especially where the curb’s too high. Let’s go check it out. I know a body shop that’ll do you good.”

Jen fought for her breath again. How could he be so light-hearted and casual? But wasn’t that the case with psychopaths? Especially charming, handsome, successful ones? The last one anyone suspected. He acted as if he didn’t remember meeting her last night at the pizza place. Oh, yes. Stupid. Of course. He was the boss, and this was work. Well, she’d pretend she never shared a video game with him, either.

“No… no, I have to go to the lab.”

“Okay, I’ll take a look on the way out and call someone to fix it. You just worry about the filer. Promise me you won’t break anything?” He smiled and pantomimed tipping his nonexistent hat.

Was he a loon on top of being a murderer? Jen shuddered and backed out of his office. When she saw him exit, she ran to a window near her cubicle.

Dave squatted in front of her car. He traced the crack and pulled on the broken air dam. He glanced at the white car and froze. Slowly he eased himself to his feet and looked at the office building. Their gazes locked.

About the author
Rachelle Ayala was a software engineer until she discovered storytelling works better in fiction than real code. She has over thirty years of writing experience and has always lived in a multi-cultural environment.

Rachelle is an active member of online critique group, Critique Circle, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has three children and has taught violin and made mountain dulcimers.

Scroll down for an interview with Rachelle!
Rachelle's website
Buy Broken Build 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Talking With Rachelle Ayala

Rachelle Ayala's book, Broken Build, was published in September by Amiga Books, and she's here today to tell us a little about it.

Book blurb:

Jen Jones hides a horrible secret behind her new degree, toned body, and exciting job at Silicon Valley’s hottest startup—until a man is killed in a hit-and-run at her work.

CEO and founder Dave Jewell is about to land a huge deal. What he doesn’t need is blood on his car, threatening phone calls, and Jen wrapped in broken code and blackmail.

A gang of thugs hunts Jen, and she takes refuge in Dave’s protective arms. Together, they must thwart a killer and rescue an innocent victim from their past. Love blossoms, but a damaging revelation points straight at Jen, threatening to tear them apart forever.

Hello, Rachelle, I’m happy to have you here today to talk about your work. You’ve published three books. Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

I daydream the big moments in advance so I know who the villain is and what the setup of the climax would be. Other than that, I write by the seat of my skirt (I don’t wear pants since I outgrew my jeans.) When I write, a movie is playing in my mind. I record everything, and oftentimes it goes with what the characters are thinking and feeling. They don’t necessarily tell me what to write, but if they won’t go a certain way and I’ve tried to nudge them that way a few times, I give up. If I keep dictating to them to do this or do that, they go on strike, and I get blocked, and no writer likes to get blocked.

I’m constantly on the lookout for new names. How do you name your characters?

Names pop into my head. I don’t really give it much thought. I suppose it is free association. I try to keep the names very common so that no one can say it is about them, hence Jones, Walker, Williams, Cruz, Jewell, Mathews are used as surnames. I live in a multi-cultural environment so Indian, Spanish, and Chinese names pop into my mind frequently.

What would Jen, your main character, say about you?

She doesn’t like me very much. I’m too mean to her, expose all her secret fears and weaknesses and make her go through lots of trauma, physical and emotional. I gave her a broken man, one she broke with her past misdeeds, and had her fall in love with him while fearing he’d reject her when he finds out what she’d done.

Are you like any of your characters? How so?

My female characters have tender hearts. They may have their own problems, but they’re all nurturers and melt at the sight of small children and baby animals. They tend to be impulsive in love like I am. This means I need to write a different character next time, but I find it tough to relate to a hard-as-nails independent woman with a chip on her shoulder. Perhaps that is why I never finished my book, Kyra’s Shield, about a woman who grew up as a man in ancient Philistia.

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

Well, gosh, this is hard. I have such hot male characters. There’s King David, Prince Ittai, Michal’s second husband, Phalti the scribe, CEO Dave Jewell and my latest sweetie, triathlete Lucas Knight.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

This one is from Broken Build. I loved to play pinball back in the 1980’s. There was a game called William’s Time Warp with yellow banana shaped paddles. I must have been in the zone one evening at UCLA. Usually, I’m pretty bad and my friend, Kathy Curry, would whip me, but that night, with Time Warp, I scored one high score after another. I didn’t even notice that everyone around me had stopped playing and that a crowd had gathered.

So I relived this pinball game in Dave’s garage at his Tahoe cabin. Only, he was playing with a hot female sitting on the table facing him. Uhmmm… my favorite scene was actually deleted. Instead, he tells her what he’d do to her on the table without actually doing it. My characters were both too emotionally damaged to go through with the hot scene I’d written.

What book are you currently reading?

Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran, I’m fascinated by women who struggle through cataclysmic times to survive, gain love and reunite their family. The heroine in Scent of Triumph reminds me of my protagonist, Michal, in Michal’s Window who loses her husband, King David, to her father’s murderous rage, only to go on an epic journey to reunite with him, sidetracked by lovers and rivals, wartime destitution and queenly duties, death and sacrifice, but ultimate triumph.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I don’t expect every reader to like my writing, so it is fine if they criticize it. I generally absorb it to see if there is anything I can improve, but I do not struggle to change my vision to suit critics. For example, my first book, Michal’s Window, has too much sex for its genre. I have my fair share of one-star reviews to prove it. But I truly believe I could not have captured the depth of Michal’s obsessive love for David and the distraction by her lover if I did not include the scenes. And honestly, they were not that explicit. It’s just that the ordinary reader of Biblical fiction is not used to on-scene sex.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?

I rarely get blocked, but as I said earlier, when I do, it’s because I’m not being true to myself—I’m trying to live up to someone else’s expectation of how my book should be structured. Here’s an example. My current WIP, Hidden Under Her Heart, is about abortion. In order to not offend any potential Christian readers, I decided that my two lovers would not have pre-marital sex. I’m writing along and get to the 2/3rds mark where they’re reunited after a long estrangement of 10 weeks. These two have talked it out, they’ve averted sex three times already, but they insist on escaping the party to go camping in a tent. At this point my readers are likely to be just as frustrated as my characters. The situation borders on unrealistic. So my characters simply went on strike until they got what they wanted. Of course, sex complicates their relationship, but hey, complications are good. And unbeknownst to them, the “Delete” key is always available.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a novel with abortion as the main topic. I read a post on the taboos of romance. [URL: http://shewandapugh.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-unspoken-rules-of-romance-part-i.html] Abortion was mentioned as the #1 no-no. I’m an indie author, no one tells me what I can and cannot write about. As I started asking myself the “what-if’s” the story gelled. My main character, Maryanne Torres, is a nurse, not a pregnant teenager. I wanted her to be completely knowledgeable and responsible for her own choices. There will be obvious complications and a series of decisions to make. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but I’m excited about the concept and hope it will make for an emotional story, no matter which side of the debate you are on. 

I'm sure it will. Thank you, Rachelle, for stopping by to chat about Broken Build. Good luck with it and your WIP. I hope you'll come back when it's published.

About Rachelle:
Rachelle Ayala was a software engineer until she discovered storytelling works better in fiction than real code. She has over thirty years of writing experience and has always lived in a multi-cultural environment.

Rachelle is an active member of online critique group, Critique Circle, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has three children and has taught violin and made mountain dulcimers.

Follow Rachelle:


Facebook page
Goodreads author page



Friday, October 19, 2012

Eight With Amy: Sabrina Garie

Sabrina Garie’s new book, Fires of Justice, was released on October 17, and she’s here to tell us a little about it and herself. She’s also offering a giveaway—a $5.00 gift card at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Before we begin the interview, I’ll let her tell us a little about her book.

Fires Of Justice

Always read the fine print when swearing an eternal oath to gods and guardians…

Beholden by the sacred vows of her coven, fire witch Calista Reid agrees to temporarily mate with shifter Cullen McMahan to fulfill a mission assigned by the guardians. When tall, dark and damaged arrives on her doorstep, generating enough heat to scorch a fire witch, Calista finds herself drawn to his battle-hardened body and broken soul. His pain speaks to her own deep-rooted isolation and the intensity of his hunger slakes her passion like no other.

Cullen, scarred by a past that left him an indentured soldier to the guardians, resents yet another hump-on-command assignment…until he encounters the compassionate, fearless, incendiary redhead who detonates his body and reawakens the emotions sacrifice and loss had suppressed. But Cullen harbors a terrible secret—one that reaches back into Calista’s troubled childhood and threatens the foundation of their growing bond.

For an excerpt, click here

Welcome, Sabrina. Thank you for being here.

Thanks for hosting me today Amy. I’m excited to be here and share my eight with Amy.

The title of your book is Fires of Justice. How did you come up with it?

The book is a paranormal story in which the hero, who is a shifter, and the heroine, a witch, are fire elementals. Fire is the foundation of their powers and a universal symbol of renewal and rebirth. They find themselves temporarily bound together by the guardian of balance, justice and unity. Through their evolving relationship, they find a personal, karmic justice for the past wrongs done to them, hence the title.

How do you develop your characters?

Characters often first pop into my head to fix a story, movie or TV show that I had liked or could have liked but for a bad ending, a character I hated, or a drive to enhance part of the story to fulfill my own needs. I create a character and use him or her to rewrite the storyline. Argenta, the guardian of balance, justice, and unity in this story initially emerged to fix a TV movie whose ending made me gag. The story and other characters grew from her.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

As hot and damaged as Cullen is, and as strong and independent as Calista is (both my favorite types) I had the most fun with Argenta because she is a total hoot. Creating a god-like figure with no limits gives a writer so much creative freedom. Trying to figure out what she looked like, how she’d talk and dress was like a being a kid in a candy shop with a wallet full of cash and no parents around. I savored every moment.

I agree—those are the best characters to write. Are you like any of your characters? How so?

I try and put one piece of myself in all the female characters I write. Not only is it cathartic, it allows me to reach deep into my own psyche when trying to convey emotions. Calista and I share a lonely childhood and a deep-rooted longing to belong and to be noticed for yourself.

Do you have a routine for writing? Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?
I have a pretty strict routine. Between full-time job, full-time parenting responsibilities, and social obligations, I have to be very disciplined or I just couldn’t write. The alarm rings at 5:00, and I write every morning Mon-Fri before my regular life begins. On weekends, I still write in the morning, but I don’t set the alarm.

To me, that’s just crazy, but if it works for you…

I love quotes. What’s one of your favorites?

This is the one quote I’ve carried through all different phases of life. It never ceases to inspire me:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson 
That's very inspirational. Sabrina, you live in Washington, DC. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

By the water—ocean, river, lake—doesn’t matter. I want to see it from most of the windows in my home. It brings me peace and balance and a sense of belonging to the universe.

I’m totally with you there. There’s just something about water. If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? (Don’t worry about the money. Your publisher is paying.)

A World cruise—to soak myself in cultures, foods, smells, scents and sights.
So what about you all, where’s your ideal place to live? I’d love to hear from you. I’m giving away a $5.00 gift card from Amazon or Barnes and Noble (your choice) to one commenter. Winners will be chosen using random.org. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Thank you, Sabrina, for letting us get to know you. Now come on, people! Comment below for a chance to win that gift card.

About Sabrina:

Sabrina Garie is on a journey to create the most kick-ass heroine romance fiction has ever known and the hero who can take her. A believer that big, audacious goals spice up life, she relies on coffee, red wine and laughter to make those goals (and her characters) come alive. When not at the computer, she wrangles vegetables and extra helpings of homework into her star-spangled, fashion-loving progeny, kowtows to a fat cat and reads, a lot. Since it is more fun to travel in packs, come along for the ride. I’d love to chat.
Find Sabrina:


Facebook page 
Publisher: Elloras’ Cave

Barnes and Noble


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Meet Margaret Millmore

Today I'm welcoming Margaret Millmore to A Blue Million Books. Margaret is the author of a new series, The Four. The first book in the series, The Beginning, was released in August. First, a little about the book:
The Beginning,
Book I

Clare had an ideal life. She lived in the perfect little town, had a great family and four of the best friends in the world. She also had nightmares, nightmares that plagued her for almost a decade. But these are not ordinary nightmares; they are premonitions, warnings of what is to come and what she will become.

She discovers that she isn’t alone in these vile dreams; her friends are having them too. They are dreaming of their ancestors and their own future... The discovery of their destiny and the future they must embrace is shocking and terrifying.


Hello, Margaret! Thanks for being here. Can you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)  
“You will not be monsters…” The Beginning - Book I –The Four series $3.99 http://www.amazon.com/The-Beginning-Four-ebook/dp/B008UYO0 #suspense #vampires #werewolves

Terrific. How did you create the plot for this book?

I was up at my weekend home in the Sierra Foothills with my husband and a few friends. It was a lazy afternoon and we were playing some sort of board-game. That doesn’t seem like a plot for a book, but the atmosphere and enjoyment of the afternoon started something in my head that grew into a book about friends and friendship and continued into the story for The Four series.

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

I do not. Generally I have a main character or sometimes 2 or 3 characters in mind. I develop them in my head before I start writing anything, and when they’ve grown into something I can work with, the book begins and everything grows from there.

Who are your favorite authors?

Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz, and just about any author that entertains me with his/her work.

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

Ray Bradbury (rest his soul) – Chicken cordon blue, a nice salad, some San Francisco sourdough bread and a light sauvignon blanc – but I would ask my husband to make it, he’s an excellent cook and I’m great at boxed mac’n cheese…

I envy women with husbands who cook! Okay, the dreadful C word. How do you handle criticism of your work?

Everyone is a critic… some criticism is well founded, and I appreciate those comments the most because I learn from them and it makes me better at what I do. However, some critics are just jerks. I ignore them, people like that will always be around, and they are not worth my mental or emotional effort.

I hear you! Do you have a routine for writing? Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?

Early morning is my favorite, the world is mostly still asleep, and I can concentrate on what the voices in my head are saying without interruption. However I’ve been known to write all day long without stopping, I truly love those days the most.

I totally agree. I’m a collector of quotes. What’s one of your favorites?

My stories run up and bite me on the leg - I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off. Ray Bradbury   

I love it! I’m adding it to my quotes page. Where’s home for you?

San Francisco, California

Lucky you! I love San Francisco. Thank you for chatting with us today, Margaret. Best of luck with The Beginning. Stop back by when Book 2 is released.

About Margaret A. Millmore...

I was born and raised in Southern California and moved to San Francisco in 1991. I currently reside there with my husband. I am the grandniece of Irish author Benedict Kiely and the second cousin of Irish author Sharon Owens. My first novel, Doppelganger Experiment was published via World Castle Publishing in September 2011 (revised/re-edited February 2012). My second novel, The Beginning – Book I (The Four series) via World Castle Publishing released August 2012 and is part one in a four part series (release dates for books II through IV are expected in October 2012 through January 2013).

Stalk Margaret at:


AmazonBarnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Guest Post: Everything is Manana by L. Leander

Living and writing in another country can be exciting or frustrating – maybe a little of both. My husband and I reside in Wisconsin during the summer months, but leave in October for the sun and beach of Mazatlan, Mexico. In case you’re not sure of the location, it’s approximately 950 miles southwest of Tucson on the Pacific Coast (mainland of Mexico.) I’ve lived here a total of eight years now and love the color, the people, the culture and the affordability.

The minute we touched down at the airport, I felt at home. Bright pink, blue, and orange houses greeted me. People on bicycles and motorcycles darted in and out of traffic and the taxi driver made a few hair-raising slides past buses and trucks, even hitting a traffic cone in the process. My motto? Hold on and pray! Gotta love it.

My book, Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders was born in Mazatlan. Through a friend I heard about a local writer’s group of expats that gathered once a week. At the time I had penned mostly songs and poetry. I went the first time and was welcomed. The group is everything a good writer’s group should be. Six to eight people get fifteen minutes to read and receive critique. The critique can be brutal, but it’s always sincere and helpful. I found myself among misfits like myself – with a passion for writing that exceeds everything else.

I jumped in with both feet and started reading, reviewing and critiquing. I don’t know how, but one night this character got in my head and would not shut up until I put her words on paper. She remained nameless for some time; although I thoroughly researched Gypsy names, there wasn’t one that fit. So I made one up. For two and a half years I read chapters and went home and changed them after receiving critique. It was finally published in June of 2012.

Now that I’ve told you the good things about writing here (along with the beautiful skies, sunsets, and ocean) let me tell you about a few things that aren’t so much fun.

As I sit here writing this piece, I am without electricity. The whole block is out – maybe the whole city. And it’s hot. Darned hot. The humidity is about 89% and the temp is in the mid-90’s. With no A/C or fans it is unbearable. Not to mention the fact that I am without Internet, too. When I have Internet, it’s better than what I have in the US. But when I don’t – not so great. We may get power in a few minutes, or a few hours, or tomorrow, even. Time is no problem in the land of Mexico. Everything is manana.

Occasionally, there will be a fiesta next door that lasts into the wee hours of the morning. No way can you muffle out a Mariachi Band. Everyone is so happy. Me, not so much, without sleep and coffee. The telephone can drive you batty if you let it with telemarketers (I play the dumb gringo even though I speak Espanol) so I have resorted to turning it off while writing. Makes my friends a little irritated. Oh, and speaking of friends? They are my greatest assets and biggest distractions. Every day something is going on that they want me to be a part of. I’ve had to learn to pick and choose and make lots of excuses so I can write.

Every morning I awake to the call of the donut vendor as he walks down the street with a tray of the delicious rolls balanced carefully on one hand. Later, the bread man comes through and you can hear his loud shout “Pan, pan” as he bicycles his cart through the neighborhood. A rooster cackles cheerfully at dawn – a strange thing to hear in a city of a half-million people. After dark, I hear the whistle of the knife sharpener, making his way up the street to render his services. All day there is a constant barrage of city buses past our front door.

I love this land, this culture, this place that is about as foreign to the Midwest as I can get. Sure, I miss trees and cows, barns and green grass. In the winter I trade it for palms, bougainvillea, and the ocean. It’s great to have the best of two worlds that are so different. I do my best writing here. I hope this winter will be fruitful!

Check out INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders on Amazon:

INZARED Video Trailer

L. Leander's website:

Look here for an interview with L. Leander.
Look here for a book excerpt of Inzared, Queen Of The Elephant Riders

Monday, October 15, 2012

Excerpt from Inzared, Queen Of The Elephant Riders


Bertha Maude Anderson. Never liked my given name. Don’t it sound like some old maiden aunt no one ever heard about until someone pulls a family tree out of a tattered Bible and all of a sudden there she is? Ma said I was scatterbrained. Mayhap she was right, if it’s any indication of the way my life turned out.

We lived a hardscrabble life on our little farm in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. Was rightly called hillbillies, a term we was all proud of. Soon as our shovel struck a bit of black soil to plant the early crops we’d hit rock and when the rains come it washed away all the young plants. Or the animals mowed them down. Rabbits and deer was the worst. Come out at night and make short work of the new sprouts. Pa worked tirelessly trying to stay one step ahead. Many a night I’d wake to the sound of his old twelve-gauge as he took aim at the marauding foxes that threatened our chicken coop full of laying hens. Eggs was the main source of income we had back then.

Guess I did fair-to-middling in the looks department. Short, about 4 foot 10 inches, I learned early on to hold my own. My long wavy black hair I inherited from Ma’s Irish side of the family, and my crooked teeth from Pa’s. Was my eyes that stood out, or so everyone told me. Amber, with tiny flecks of green that flashed when I got mad, as I was wont to do. I tried to keep my temper under wraps and act like Ma. She always managed to put people in their place with a withering look and a firm word. Sometimes it worked for me and sometimes not. I didn’t really care one way or the other.

Ma and Pa always favored Ezra, my brother. Never did bother me much, though. Was older than me by eighteen months and the boy Ma and Pa had prayed for. Steadfast and calm, Ezra stuck right to Pa like glue. I wasn’t never jealous – he was the big brother every girl wants. Tall, nearly six feet, like Pa. Same black hair as me, but a lot more handsome. More than once he took a licking for me, like the time I told Ma I didn’t know how all the eggs I had gathered got broke. When he come in the house and saw me in tears, Ma’s firm voice commanding me to get a willow switch, Ezra told Ma he was teasing and lobbed a clod of dirt at me.

“She ducked and dropped the basket and all the eggs broke.” He hung his head. “I’m real sorry, Ma,” he whispered. 

About the book:

Bertha Maude Anderson was born in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Raised on a small farm, she lives a hard life far-removed from everything she craved. Misunderstood by her parents, her only confidante her brother Ezra, Bertha yearns for excitement. A Gypsy circus comes to town and her world changes forever.

Coaxed into joining the Romanoff Brothers Circus, Bertha’s name is changed to INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders. She learns to ride Cecil, the elephant, and the two forge an unbreakable bond. Inzared falls in love, learns to co-exist with the Gypsies, solves a mystery and grows into a woman, all the while searching for the life she has always dreamed of.

About the author:

L. Leander is an e-book author, freelancer and songwriter. She writes for Yahoo! Content and does guest posts on author blogs and groups. As a child L. Leander dreamed of running away to join the circus. Instead, she grew up to write about it, bringing the magic alive for all who read her work. 
Ms. Leander currently resides between Wisconsin and Mexico. INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders is the first book in a series about a Gypsy wagon circus in pre-Civil War America.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Talking With L. Leander

L. Leander is our featured author today. Linda's book, Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders, is available on Kindle and currently enjoys a rating of 4.6 from thirty-two reviews. Wow. Thirty-two! First, a little about the book:

Book Blurb:
Bertha Maude Anderson was born in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Raised on a small farm, she lives a hard life far-removed from everything she craved. Misunderstood by her parents, her only confidante her brother Ezra, Bertha yearns for excitement. A Gypsy circus comes to town and her world changes forever.

Coaxed into joining the Romanoff Brothers Circus, Bertha’s name is changed to INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders. She learns to ride Cecil, the elephant, and the two forge an unbreakable bond. Inzared falls in love, learns to co-exist with the Gypsies, solves a mystery and grows into a woman, all the while searching for the life she has always dreamed of.

Welcome, Linda. Your characters sound fascinating. Are any of them inspired by real people? 

My main character, Inzared, was inspired by a woman who had a positive effect on me during my young adult life. She taught me that having little doesn’t mean being poor. She grew up in poverty in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. As a young wife and mother she moved to the Midwest and encountered hardships most of us never dream about. Through it all she remained true to herself and loyal to her friends and family. She is one of the people in my life I would most aspire to be. Her stories of growing up and being part of her inner circle taught me a lot about life and about following your dreams. When I began writing INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders, the main character took on a lot of her traits.

She sounds like an amazing person. What would your main character say about you?

Inzared told me more than once that I was a procrastinator and that I needed to get her story out. I put it off for three years until she drove me crazy, and I published the first book just to shut her up! (In actuality, I’m not so much a procrastinator as unsure of myself. I kept trying to tell her that but she wouldn’t listen.)

Characters. What are you gonna do with them. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I tell everyone I can do a lot of things, but I’m not great at any of them. I don’t mean that to sound like I don’t think I’m any good. I don’t believe that. But I am a perfectionist and get mad at myself all the time for making what I call “stupid” mistakes. (I’m working on positive reinforcement.) So, here goes: I love to play the guitar, fiddle, autoharp and dulcimer, and write songs. (I play a lot of instruments, but those are my favorites, and I’ve been writing songs since I was in my teens). I have been sewing and quilting since I was very young, and it totally relaxes me. I’m on an apron kick right now, but I love to sew absolutely anything! Reading has always been my passion – if I could pick books or television, books would win hands down! I enjoy cooking and baking (especially campfire cooking). I love, love, love to go to the movies, especially if I’ve read the book! My husband and I camp in the summer and like to take walks and visit with friends. I am reality-tv obsessed! My favorite tv show is Survivor, but The Amazing Race comes in at a close second. I also like The Voice, American Idol, America’s Got Talent – you get the drift!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
This one’s easy – Mexico! I live in Mazatlan, Mexico in the winter months, and it’s the best place on earth. Surrounded by the ocean, great food, wonderful events and fantastic friends – couldn’t ask for more.

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix me? I mean, him. Or her.
Sorry darling. No room at the table. I’ve already invited Stephen King, Ann Rule, Amy Tan, and Harlan Coben. I’m doing research for my next novel – paranormal Chinese history true crime mystery with a surprise ending! I’d do a barbecue because my hubby is an awesome grillmaster. I’m the prep cook then, and I make drinks and desserts to go with whatever he has in mind.

Oh man. Are you sure I can't come? I'll be really quiet and eat just a little...okay, moving on. When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

No. I’m totally a “pantster.” I have learned that I need to outline (dread the thought) my characters and flesh them out a little or I tend to think everyone understands them the way I do. The characters apply when I put out the call, and after I’ve interviewed them and chosen the ones I need, I write them in. It’s kind of like doing a jigsaw puzzle (another favorite pastime of mine).

What were your favorite books or favorite authors
a) as a child: There was an Americana series that I loved growing up. The books were based on real historical figures, such as Abraham Lincoln, Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams, Andrew Jackson, etc. I loved and read each one over and over. By the age of ten I graduated to Zane Grey and read every one of his books – Wildfire was my favorite. I also began reading Jack London about then and couldn’t get enough of his books – loved White Fang! Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Anderson’s Fairy Tales were my other favorites as a child.
b) as a teenager: As a teen I grew to love the classics. Thomas Hardy was my favorite, but I also loved Bronte, Dickens, Shakespeare, Austen, Poe, London, Longfellow, and many more. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was one of my favorite books as a teen.
c) as an adult: I have pretty eclectic tastes in reading. I don’t read Sci-Fi or Fantasy, as a rule, although I have found a few in each of those genres that I did like. I absolutely loved the Harry Potter books. For a refreshing read I like Sophie Kinsella, Janet Evanovich, and Stephanie Weiner. I have read everything Ann Rule has written as True Crime fascinates me. I cannot believe people are so base. Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly are my favorite mystery authors. Stephen King cannot be beat as the most intelligent writer of all time, in my mind. He proved that perseverance does pay. Amy Tan is brilliant, as is Barbara Kingsolver. I love biographies and autobiographies, and just about anything non-fiction. I love learning things, and research is my favorite part of writing, so I haunt the non-fiction section of the library. INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders is the title of your book. How did you come up with it?
I didn’t come up with it - she did! I had a couple of other names in mind, but Inzared was adamant. Some writer friends thought I should change it. She had a hissy fit. So it stayed.

My characters have hissy fits with tails. They're so dramatic. Thank you, Linda, for talking with us. I'm looking forward to reading about Inzared tomorrow in the excerpt you're going to share with us. 

About the author:
L. Leander is an e-book author, freelancer, and songwriter. She writes for Yahoo! Content and does guest posts on author blogs and groups. As a child, L. Leander dreamed of running away to join the circus. Instead, she grew up to write about it, bringing the magic alive for all who read her work.

Ms. Leander currently resides between Wisconsin and Mexico. INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders is the first book in a series about a Gypsy wagon circus in pre-Civil War America.